Remembering Generous, Invisible Women

***Catholic Carnival #136 is now UP! Sarah at “Just Another Day of Catholic Pondering” shows her true colors as she draws from the four corners of the virtual universe to compile the best and most thought-provoking posts to brighten your week. Enjoy!

(Here was my contribution …)

Please note: A Good Samaritan identified the quote that was sent to me, which appeared in the “Invisible Mom” piece I already posted. The wonderful reflection was from a book by Nicole Johnson entitled The Invisible Woman. You can order it through by clicking here.

This week God has been teaching me about the flip side of the original “invisibility” piece I published earlier on this blog. So many women wrote to tell me how much the piece meant to them. I’m delighted — finally — to be able to give the author proper credit. The piece was part of a book written by Nicole Johnson entitled The Invisible Woman.

As a writer, I was embarrassed to pass along such gems of wisdom without being able to identify the original source … and so grateful when a reader helped me make that connection. Of course, an anonymous quote can be a form of invisibility. We can take solace in the fact that the things that we do for which we don’t receive the credit, will be most amply rewarded in the next. Right?

Anyway, back to “invisibility.” Earlier this week I had an MRI (thank God for sedatives and praying friends). The worst part was the noise, which was only partly blocked by earplugs. My friend Donna O’Boyle suggested that I pray the Rosary while I was engulfed, my arms pressed against my chest, in this medical monstrosity.

Instead I sang hymns at the top of my lungs. Yes, “Be Not Afraid” and every other warm-and-fuzzy number that gives some Catholics the heeby-jeebies. I’m afraid Gregorian chant would have been just too much of an anachronism. (I did finish up with enthusiastic renditions of “Ave Maria” and “Ave Verum Corpus.”)

The technician might not have appreciated it, but I’m pretty sure I heard my guardian angel giggle.

The next day, I picked up a stack of books and … long story short, I’ve been in the hospital for the past three days with a compressed nerve (the MRI showed a bulging disk in my fifth vertibrae). Three days without loading dishwashers or driving the kids to school. Three days without e-mail or phone. Three days without mounds of laundry. (No doubt most of these are waiting to herald my return.) Three days when my sheer lack of … invisibility… was all too evident.

The kids have not taken kindly to my extended absence, of course. Every day Sarah walks into my hospital room and casts herself on my bed with the kind of weeping and gnashing of teeth you associate with a much … hotter place. So we cuddle up, Christopher on one side and Sarah on my one good hip, and we watch cartoons and sip Sprite and catch up on what’s been going on at school.

The look on Craig’s face, as he watches this scene, is a cross between relief and an unabashed desire to escape. Poor dear. The brunt of my absence has fallen squarely on his shoulders, particularly the antics of our unhappy and disoriented children (who even on the best of days have been known to engage in spirited hijinks). The poor man needs a break.

Enter Aunt Katy. Katy is one of my dearest friends as well as Christopher’s godmother. Katy was raised in a family of thirteen children, and regularly volunteers to help me tackle projects I’ve been wanting to do but never find time for. Painting the living room. Cleaning out and organizing the kitchen. Tonight she stopped by to see me … and volunteered to take the kids home and put them to bed for us, so Craig and I could spend a little quiet time together.

Katy and her husband have not been blessed with children of their own, at least not yet. And yet, she and her husband Todd are a truly “generous” couple. In Catholic circles, we tend to measure the “openness” and “generosity” of a couple by how many children they are raising. However, it is women like Katy — and others like her — who have come up alongside me and helped me to be the kind of loving and generous parent God wants me to be.

So today I’d like to remember the women who are “invisible in generosity.” Those who have tried to remain open to all God has for them, and serve Him to the best of their ability, despite the fact that, for whatever reason, their minivan does not exactly “runneth over” with carseats.

Thank you to those generous women who continue to trust God even if it means conceiving and carrying children … only to face having to send those children on ahead of you to heaven.

Thank you to those whose struggles with infertility means trusting God to open other avenues to practice your God-given calling to nurture other souls; some by choosing foster care or adoption, others (like Katy) choosing to support other parents in their vocations.

Thank you to those generous women who express your spiritual motherhood by taking into your home other people’s children, despite the fact that you have not yet received the graces of the sacrament of matrimony (most notably a partner to share the load).

Above all, thank you to those women who continue to feel invisible — and who recognize the gift hidden within that calling. The most delicate organs (such as the spinal column and the extended nervous system) are not visible to the naked eye. And yet where would the body be without them?

1 thought on “Remembering Generous, Invisible Women

  1. Heidi, I was really touched by the original piece, but really, this one is very lovely. I hope you’re feeling better! Thanks for sharing your wisdom in the midst of your pain.


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