The Essence of Love

April 28, 2015 § Leave a comment

Today, April 28th, is the feast day of St. Gianna Molla: doctor, wife, mother, skier, and all-around awesome woman.  She’s also my Confirmation saint and one of my biggest heroes.

Read her inspiring story here:

On the morning of April 21, 1962, which was Good Friday that year, her daughter Gianna Emanuela, named for her mother, was born after a hard labor via C-section. She told her doctors, “If you must decide between me and the child, do not hesitate: choose the child – I insist on it.  Save her.”  Seven days later Gianna died with much suffering on April 28, 1962. She was only 39 years old. Among her last words were,“Jesus, I love you.”

Gianna Beretta Molla was beatified by Pope John Paul II on April 24, 1994, during the international Year of the Family. She was canonized a saint on May 16, 2004.  She is the patron saint of physicians, pregnant mothers, unborn children, and against abortion.

I could write on and on about being pro-life, about science and reason and inalienable rights, but I won’t.

I was brought down to the foundation of my life during my time of suffering and silent learning.  All I know now, all I have understood is that we are here to love. And love is sacrifice. We lay down our lives for those we love, and we are called to love all.  Gianna died that her child “might have life, and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).  She embodied Jesus with her whole heart and soul.  She gave herself up.  That is the essence of love.

As I write this, there are two women especially on my heart: my sister Juliana and my aunt Sue, because they both lost a child within the last year and a half.  Because they weren’t able, or asked, to make the same kind of sacrifice that Gianna was… they were asked to make a much harder one as a mother. To be the one still here, to have to continue, to pick up the cross and walk on.  But though the outward sacrifice is different, the essence of love remains the same.

Saint Gianna, pray for us!

Let the Green Leaves Unfurl

April 22, 2015 § Leave a comment

Let the green leaves unfurl from my soul. Let the rain pound down from the sky.

This is what we are: gardeners, working with our hands in damp soil and sun. Cultivating the earthy, necessary shoots of love, the flamboyant flowers of joy, and the tall climbing vines of hope. Those vines, they twist and wind tenaciously around the fences guarding our hearts; they’re an everyday miracle of waking up and invisibly growing by inches.

We build fences to keep our gardens neat and tidy. We plant in rows and stake evenly. Because we need the idea that our seeds will come up orderly.  We know we have to start planting now and it’s less scary to do it with some sort of map in our heads. Then the plants break through the soil and we water the love and inhale the perfume of joy and we watch those trembling hopeful vines curl themselves up and around our fences, and we wonder at their future.

Sometimes they die. We watch them wither. And maybe we water them and try to save them and maybe we don’t. We untangle the dead tendrils from our fences, lifting and separating, and throw them in the burn barrel with the rest of the pruning.  And that’s okay, because here’s the thing about hope: it pops back up out of the dirt faster than any weed. Give it another chance to blossom; it’ll be morning glories, it’ll be sweet peas and wisteria. It’ll be a riotous explosion of color and sun and delight.

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