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A few weeks after Jacob was born, a mommy friend shared a very special publication with me. It’s something one of her friends—and friends of that friend—put together as a way to encourage and strengthen Catholic mothers. What started as a blog became a quarterly publication, and one that I read cover to cover during the many nursing sessions in Jacob’s newborn days.
The journal is aptly named Soul Gardening. In their own words, this is what it’s all about:
Soul Gardening is a journal designed to offer encouragement to Catholic mothers as we respond to the call to grow in holiness and simplicity. Our purpose is to help women recognize the beauty of this vocation, the Heaven to be found in even the diapers and the dishes, and the power in making our days a living prayer.
The bit about recognizing “the beauty of this vocation” rang especially true for me in those first weeks, and I am grateful that this little journal found its way into my hands. To expand a bit on the purpose statement above, SG is a collection of reflections, recipes, illustrations, quotes, humor, riddles for kids, and other odds and ends that are of interest to contemporary mothers who are working to make their homes havens of faith-filled living. Each entry isn’t more than two or three pages, which means you can read a bit here or there and gain something worthwhile to think about until you have another minute to read some more (whenever that might be).
This week, the Summer 2011 issue arrived, and I couldn’t wait to dig in. After dinner the day it came, John and I both ended up on the couch, totally absorbed in one of the funnier pieces. Although the journal is targeted at Catholic mothers, a lot of it is relevant to Christian parents in general.
But there was another reason I was so excited to receive this latest issue. Once I devoured the first issue, I wanted to get involved. At the urging of the friend who offered me a copy in the first place, I submitted a piece of my own writing to the lovely ladies that make SG happen. They kindly printed a short reflection on my first night with Jacob in the hospital, titled “You Are So Very Loved.”
I’ve gained a good deal of wisdom from reading stories about these women, who seem to have at least three children each, and I was grateful for the opportunity to take them and their readers back to a time when a mother has just one child in her care—her first, her only. Here’s an excerpt from the piece:
It’s two a.m. I am alone in a hospital room with my hours-old firstborn son, trying to figure out how to feed him. I have never held a baby so small before. I don’t really know what I’m doing. The shock of having my own child in my arms hasn’t worn off yet, and won’t for another couple of weeks.
He’s crying. I’m lost for what to do or say, so I tell him the only thing I know for sure:
“You are so loved.
“God loves you. Jesus loves you. Mother Mary loves you. I love you. Your daddy loves you. Your grandparents, aunts, and uncles, friends you haven’t met yet—they all love you so very much.”
In speaking these words to my little one, I find strength. I don’t know what I personally have to offer this brand new person yet, but I know that the love that already exists for him is true and pure. He has done nothing to deserve it; he is loved simply because he exists.
You can learn more about Soul Gardening—and even subscribe to it—here: http://www.soulgardeningjournal.com/. This really is a wonderful publication. It’s something that’s done a lot of good for me (and my soul), and the kind of writing I wish our world had more of.