Friday, December 08, 2006

The Barren Woman Chronicles

About six years ago, Advent was quite difficult. We were struggling with infertility and many of the readings during Advent pertain to women who late-in-life bring forth sons. You've got your Hannahs and Sarais and Elizabeths filling up those quiet days of preparation. I lamented, "Lord childbearing is an uncontroverted blessing and miracle in your Scripture. Please bless us with a child." The next Advent, I was becoming great with child and I had just begun to wear the maternity clothes I would grow tired of with Zeke's pregnancy.

Today is a Holy Day of obligation in the Catholic calendar. It's the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We commemmorate the moment of her conception. It ushered in the beginning of the new age of Salvation. The Catholic calendar celebrates many, many, many days of earthly death/heavenly life for its Saints. But there are only a few who were set apart at birth and they are: Mary, John the Baptizer, and Jesus. For them, we celebrate their earthly birth, too, and even count back to their conceptions.

I was reminded of a truth, known to us and hidden from those in the time of Christ: when a female child is in the womb, in the tiny womb-within-the-womb, she has all the eggs she'll ever have. At birth, she has millions, at puberty, fewer than that, by menopause, they've dwindled to the thousands. And this little scientific fact dawned on me especially on December 8th because at the moment of Mary's conception, that cellular structure which would become Our Lady also contained the components of what would be her contribution to the DNA of Jesus. Thus, from the dawning of her creation, her "yes", her fiat, her egg, was also there. And somehow, knowing this in the midst of my struggles, made the infertility seem less random and more a part of God's greater plan.

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