I debated writing this post with the Holy Spirit for two weeks now, ever since he first nudged me to write it. It’s not really my secret, but I lived in it. The secret in large part is my daughter’s. Some of this is based on my observation and some of this comes directly from conversations that I have had with my daughter. The debate for me came down to examining motivation. In the end I came to trust that I wouldn’t be inspired by the Holy Spirit to write this unless someone who comes across this post, needs to read it.
When my daughter and her husband got married they didn’t approach their bond with each other as something that they would be happy to make room in it for any children that God happened to send their way. Instead, the desire to have children was a motivating factor in desiring marriage. This was a case of two beautiful souls wanting to express their love for each other in marriage. It seemed that it was only a matter of time. Time though marched on. Eventually they started the conversation of possibly adopting.
In 2019 I participated in a pilgrimage tour where we spent five days walking the final 120 kilometers of the northern route of the Camino de Santiago in Spain. The Camino is a famous pilgrimage that leads to Santiago where the remains of the apostle St James the Greater are buried in the Cathedral. Pilgrims have been walking in penance, in prayer, in hope to Santiago since the 1200’s. The stretch that we walked was from Sarria to Santiago.
I wrote previously of an experience I had on that walk while praying individually for each member of my family (see My Name is Patrick, posted June 23). The secret between my daughter and I is what I experienced during the kilometer that I prayed for her. I tried very hard to pray that morning for each member of the family by just offering them up to God rather than assuming that I knew what each one needed most.
As I prayed for my daughter I came into this tiny village where they were holding some sort of celebration near the church. There was music and laughter, but what filled my ears most was the sound of children playing and laughing. It brought a smile to my face. I asked God whether this was a sign that my daughter would have children of their own someday, but the simple answer I received was “I delight in her”.
As I shared in that earlier post, that whole prayer experience that day was powerful. I prayed about what to do with it. The answer I received was that my first response would be to write a letter for each person I prayed for and share with them what happened during the time I prayed for them. I was excited, perhaps overly excited.
As we were headed out to Colorado to visit my oldest son and his family shortly after my return to the States, I set to work writing out their letters first and I brought them along. I made two mistakes. First, I didn’t tell them ahead of time what I had for them. Second, I waited until right before we left for home to share the story and the letters with them. I could tell by their skeptical faces that the letters were a bit overwhelming. That wasn’t my intention at all. So, I hesitated writing the rest of the letters.
One day after we returned home, my daughter was visiting and she asked when she was going to receive her letter. I told her that I was concerned that the letters may be a bit overwhelming. I didn’t want to upset anyone. “I want my letter,” she stated, firmly. Never one who was good at saying "no" to her, I promised I would write out hers and her husband’s letters. I did, and I had them ready for the next time we would be together.
A few days later we were together but I had inadvertently forgot the letters at home. During the visit they shared with my wife and I that they were expecting! Joy! They had waited until the doctor confirmed everything before they shared the news. I was even more excited to share my daughter’s letter with her now that I knew what I was to make of the children I heard at play that day on the Camino.
A few days later, however, we received a totally different kind of call. She had lost the baby. That situation absorbed our visits for the next weeks. Then one day, out of the blue, she reminded me that I still hadn’t given her the letter. I didn’t know what to say. It just didn’t seem like something she needed to deal with right now. I grew concerned that instead of something beautiful and faith affirming, the contents could actually cause her to doubt God's love for her, God's delight in her.
But at her insistence I went down the hall to get their letters off of my dresser. I felt like all of the blood had left my veins. I handed them each their letter and explained that it might be difficult to read, but trust in what God revealed to me for each of them. They decided to take the letters home to read. I got a call later that evening from my daughter. She told me that the letters were beautiful and she thanked me for sharing it with her. I was relieved and very thankful.
A few months later my daughter became pregnant again. This time there were no serious complications and little Molly was born the following July. Her brother Danny was born just a month shy of Molly’s second birthday. Molly loves to run and play and laugh. Little Danny, at four months, is just starting to giggle.
in the land of the living. be stouthearted, wait for the L! Psalm 27:13-14