So 2 months ago, I attended the second Theology of the Body course in Quarryville, Pennsylvania, and it was truly amazing! I LOVE how the TOB community is very tight knit. I attended the course with a few people I saw last year at the first TOB course, and we became closer through our love for TOB and for each other!
Reality has set in though and the weight of the responsibility has set me on fire for the Lord and this prophetic message!
Before I get into the nitty-gritty of my experience at the retreat, let me share an experience that I shared with my TOB friends at the retreat. It has really put things into perspective for me. I never considered my body to be a theology, but boy, was I wrong. I always thought that my body will be a gift, and sure…. it’s easy enough when you’re a parent… you’re ALWAYS a gift…but when the true nature of being a gift is called into question, things change.
A few weeks before the course, our friends got married, and it was a beautiful wedding. One of the sponsors at the wedding recently had a baby a few weeks prior, so I was asked to take care of him, and of course, I said YES! I LOVE babies!!
As I was taking care of him, he started to get fussy, so I rocked him, stood up, burped him… but he would have none of it. I quickly walked to the back as the entire wedding party was lining up and told his mom that he was hungry. She was unsure what to do because the wedding procession was going to start in a few minutes. My husband, being the TOB supporter, steps out and says “who’s going to be the wet nurse? Charity right?” and both the baby’s mom and I looked at each other and I said “I’m ok to feed him as long as you are… I don’t want him to be hungry.” And she said “tob right? Charity!” I was in such awe from that moment. I knew I had to be a gift for this little incarnate soul. He was hungry, so I fed him out of love and charity for him and his mom.
Wait whaaaaat???? You breastfed another baby?? Some of you are probably thinking this… and to you I say Yes…yes I did!! I did it with joy and love for God. My understanding of the theology of the body made that decision easier for me to love another human that wasn’t directly related to me.
I must say that it was one of the most beautiful experiences I’ve had. I mean breastfeeding in general is a beautiful experience, but it is different when it’s your own child and when it’s someone else’s. At that moment, I remember feeling awestruck and simply in love. I was able to be a gift for someone other than my family and it was beautiful.
It only really hit me how powerful this witness was to me and to my fellow TOB retreat goers. I shared this story with them during our Thursday bonfire, and a few women after came and told me that it was such a great story and that they would pray for me. One woman said that I would forever be her example of Our Lady of Laleche. Every time she sees someone breastfeeding a baby, she will think of me and pray for me. 🙂 What wonderful people to offer up prayers for you.
Fast forward a few months later, and what have I realized…. There are so many things I can say about this experience.
It helped me have more reverence towards our blessed mother Mary. She is the original Our Lady of la Leche. She nursed the baby Jesus in order to sustain His life, and in turn, He gave up His to save hers. WOW!!!!! I, somehow, was able to participate in the very act of charity that sustained my friend’s baby as well as the charity that allowed Jesus to live. We never think about Mary breastfeeding Jesus, but in reality she did. What else would she have done?? She loved him enough to give up her life to care for him. She had sleepless nights, fussy baby blues, breastfeeding aches, but yet she still gave up her life to take care of the one who gave up his. We often forget that Mary was human with real struggles and real parenting fails, but she, with the grace of God, took care of Jesus. What a lovely reminder for us mothers… Mary was once in our shoes, so she knows our hearts better than anyone.
The theology of the body has taught me that we all long for closeness and love, and the only way to show and express love is to give of yourself fully. To give of yourself to another freely, totally, faithfully, and fruitfully is the only way to truly live life. If you’re going to live, live with love. If you’re going to love, love till it hurts. If you’re going to be a gift, give yourself fully. When they say “no man is an island” it’s true. No one can live by themselves devoid of the rest of the world. My dad once shared with me that “God made me to know him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this life and be happy with him forever in the next.” I will forever take those words with me as I move forward in life. That one moment where I gave myself to love and serve another little human has forever changed my life, and for that experience, I am truly grateful.