Growing up as the oldest child in a large family was a delightful, sometimes challenging but always loving experience. I often “mothered” my younger siblings, and I took it for granted that someday I would have a large family of my own. However after several years of marriage and no children, my husband and I began to acknowledge that perhaps God had other plans.
We began to pray about and discuss the blessings and possibilities of adoption. I shared this dream one wintry night with my mother and she promised to include our hope in her prayers.
A couple of months later, as I sat teaching one of my second grade reading groups I looked up and saw my father standing at my classroom door. Immediately thinking that there must be something terribly wrong, I rushed over to him and we stepped into the hallway. He gently said to me, “Your mother and I received a call from an attorney friend of ours today who has placed several children in homes through private adoption. He heard through the grapevine that you and John were thinking about adoption. A baby boy was born two days ago to a very young mother who is looking for a good family for him and my friend thought of you.”
Never in my life had I heard words that had such a deep, emotional impact on me like my father’s words did that day. Since we hadn’t officially started an adoption process, the shock of this conversation with my father still remains almost impossible to describe. Shaking with emotion and crying tears of joy and hope, I immediately called my husband (who was also a teacher) and to this day, we don’t know how either of us made it through our schedules or what we even taught! Later on we found out that the attorney’s “grapevine” was my mother. My mother had shared our story with her best friend, the attorney’s wife.
Two days after my father’s visit to my classroom we welcomed our beautiful son into our home. Three years later, we were blessed with a second precious son through adoption. One year after that, God astonished us again when we discovered that I was pregnant and our third son joined our family. Our three beautiful and amazing sons have never ceased to bless our family and the world with their giftedness, goodness and strength of character.
Today is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This feast teaches us that Mary herself was conceived in her mother’s womb without sin. Immunity from original sin was granted to Mary by God to pave the way for her to be the mother of Jesus.
Luke’s gospel describes Mary’s encounter with angel Gabriel when she received the news that she would be a mother. I can imagine that Mary’s response and reaction to Gabriel’s words were much like mine as I listened to the words of my father. Mary too must have been swept into an intensely emotional world of questions, chaos, joy and fear. What could those words mean? What would it be like if she said yes? What was God asking?
Whether or not we are parents, God continually invites us to “give birth” to God’s love and showers us with invitations to be creators and caregivers of many people and things including relationships, ideas, initiatives, visions and so much more. At times we may be asked to take risks. At times we are called to serve. At times the invitations may even be life-altering. But we are invited to remember angel Gabriel’s words to Mary: “Do not be afraid…for you have found favor with God.”
Today we are inspired by Mary and are invited to pray about the many ways we have birthed God’s love into the world. Who have been the Gabriels in each of our lives? As you reflect today, may you discover and remember the times that you have said “yes” to God’s call. May you not be afraid to walk where God is inviting you to walk both now and into the future. When God calls, take those first steps; the journey will astound you and the world may never be the same.
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