Birthing Joy

A wonderful local story here in Buffalo touched me this morning. It’s a story of a woman, Jackie Oddo, who found out that her birth mother, had died when she found her obituary in the newspaper. This woman, Marsha L. Straubinger, an artist and dedicated volunteer was someone who she never met in person but had several conversations with.

The most touching part of this story for me was when Oddo decided that she was going to Marsha’s wake:

“I didn’t want to hurt these people,” Oddo said.

Bart Oddo knew how important this opportunity could be to his wife. He suggested she tell the nice man that had just been talking to them. They could tell he was close to Straubinger because they had seen him conferring with the priest about the eulogy for the funeral the next day.

The Oddos asked Vinal to come over. “This is Marsha’s daughter,” Bart Oddo said, gesturing to his wife. “Marsha was Jackie’s biological mother.”

Vinal looked extremely surprised. He said something about how that made sense, because Straubinger had been a very private person and let few people into her life.

The Oddos gave Vinal their phone number and said they would be at the funeral the next day.

They got in their car. Jackie Oddo said she was overcome with a feeling of relief “as though a weight had been totally lifted from me.”

Amazing! Joy through grief. What a gift these families have given to each other and what a gift Marsha gave to her daughter by giving her to a family who could care for her. Harboring that secret all these years must have been difficult. Perhaps now, she realizes that she loved her child enough to give her what was best for her.

Read the whole story–it’s beautiful

Let’s pray today for adoptive parents and those who give up their child for adoption. I’m especially thinking of my friends Patty and Steve Spear and their son Matthew.

May God grant them all peace and serenity.

Adopted by God

Today’s quote gave me pause. It amazes me how I somehow run right to the negative. This is from Romans…take a second to reflect with me on this:

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.
For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, “Abba, Father!”
The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

In the same way, the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.
And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because it intercedes for the holy ones according to God’s will.

The word adoption is a loaded word for me. I tried to adopt a little girl once and it just didn’t work out. I was angry and upset at a great many things but mostly, I felt robbed from the opportunity of being a parent. So whenever I hear the word “adopted” I cringe a bit.

But have I not been adopted myself?

God adopted me through Christ. The beauty of incarnation as one of us brings us all to become sons and daughters of God. God cares about creation so much that he instills His spirit into us. Jesus gives us flesh and blood by turning it over to us to do with it as we will. We crucified it once and do so again with each sinful action, but we also adore Jesus’ body and blood in the Eucharist now as well. The body once broken by us is again broken but gloriously now and it feeds us real food–God literally inside of us. Mysticism and matter rolled into one.

God chooses to give me Himself. Adopts me as His own.

Would it be that I could give myself to another as an adopter. But alas, it was not to be. But in order to adopt one needs to realize their own adoption. To love more perfectly, one needs to realize that they are loved first by God.

Do I really believe that?

Could God really be all I need? Or do I have those disordered attachments that St. Ignatius talks about?

What is it that keeps me from Jesus? From the cross? From belief?

Some days I’m snotty and selfish. Others I’m lazy. Others resentful.

The truth is that we all need to feel adopted. We need to feel like something inside us has just died, so that we might live more freely, more openly for God without the need for reciprocation on either end. God doesn’t owe us anything.

And in a similar way, we don’t owe God either. Jesus has ransomed us from death and adopted us as His own forever.

And therein lies one of the central tenets of our faith–that God never abandons us. Even after death, God reaches beyond the darkness of death and tries to pull us His way into His own wonderful new light.

Tomorrow is our Gala Dinner for our parish’s 160 years. Many have been adopted into this communion of saints. Do we have enough gratitue for those who have adopted us?