Sunday, November 17, 2019

THE GARDEN OF THE ANGELS

This was a sad week in our family. Our fourth daughter, Catherine, miscarried her baby, the one we'd been praying for her to have for nearly five years.  She had found out she was pregnant on the anniversary of my husband's death, and lost the baby at about six or seven weeks. She told me,
We’ve decided to name our baby Julian. Julian of Norwich is a special figure for English Catholics/Anglicans especially, so we liked that connection. Her name probably wasn’t actually Julian - she was likely named for the church of St. Julian where she lived, which seems to make the name appropriate for a boy or girl. And then I keep thinking of her famous quote, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” 
I asked her if she would like me to get a stone for the Garden of the Angels at our church, and she said she would.   Our previous pastor, who was consecrated a Bishop two years after coming to our parish, had worked with a small group of us who had lost children who were miscarried or stillborn or died young. He had chosen a place in the garden just outside the church and arranged to have it become our Garden of the Angels.  Two beautiful angel statues from inside the church office were moved there, and one of the gardeners clipped a plant into the shape of an angel. Anyone who would like a stone engraved with the name of a child whom they've lost can place it there. We have gotten quite a little collection for our family. It began with Scholastica, the name I chose for the baby we lost after our son was born, named for St. Benedict's twin sister, also a saint. Our second daughter has two stones, our third daughter has one, and our fifth daughter has one. And now we'll have one for little Julian. I seldom leave daily Mass without seeing someone praying in the Garden, and I think that those of us who have lost babies have a sense of solidarity with everyone whom we see there. I am so grateful for the kindness and empathy of our pastor, who listened to our stories of loss and immediately acted to find a place where we can remember those babies whom we didn't know but entrust to the loving arms of those who have gone before us.
I remember that some time after my beloved husband died, my oldest daughter's husband had a dream about my husband in which a child's voice was saying, "Don't worry; we're here and we're fine." We thought it was odd that it would be my son-in-law that would have this dream rather than one of my children, and Elizabeth asked if the child was a boy or girl (since we hadn't known the sex of the child we lost), but her husband said he didn't know, it was just a child's voice. I guess there are small mysteries that we have to wait to unravel as well as all the larger ones.  But although it was only a dream, it was as reassuring and comforting as a hug from heaven.

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