By Carolyn Shields, hopeful
When I was a child years ago, I had a dream of looking out of our Holy's eyes as He hung on the cross. I could see His pale and thin legs twisted beneath me, and the cross extended thousands of miles below. At the base was the earth, a quarter sized globe, and together we hung suspended between the heavens and our world. He is the King of this Creation, and His cross is certainly the bridge to Eternal Salvation. It's a painful bridge, but Love must pass through Calvary.
Then, a few years later in college, I was praying at adoration when I put down my journal and my pen, and leaned against my fist as I stared at the monstrance.
Write of me, He said.
And I said, Okay.
Write of my Love.
And my throat became thick as I said, I will.
As I began to receive letters from women across the world after the launch of theYCW one year ago, I believed that our Holy was using me. What better way to reach a global audience than the world wide web?
But, as always, He has a better way in mind. He wants me to go face-to-face with the women starving for Truth.
"I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life."
Recently we have been approached by the President of Rural Women in Professions in Masaka, Uganda, requesting that we send a speaker to their International Women's Conference this May.
These women in Uganda have lived through one of the world's longest recorded wars. Since 1986, the Lord's Resistance Army, led by Joseph Kony, raged havoc on the lives of Ugandans, kidnapping 30,000 children and forcing them to slaughter their parents with machetes, then subsequently coercing them to fight on the front lines. The LRA forced the weakened government to house 1.7 million citizens in disease infested camps for safety, and notably, the LRA used the Juba Peace Talks of 2008 as a distraction to massacre families in churches across the country on Christmas Eve that year.
Invisible Children described the LRA as
a brutal rebel group of abducted soldiers. Much of the core fighting force has been with the group for a decade or more, abducted as children from northern Uganda. They have no clear political motivation, but take advantage of whatever turmoil is affecting central Africa for their own survival. They're violent, and abduct, murder, and loot their way across the porous borders of central Africa.
Though the LRA was driven out of Uganda in 2006, the scars they inflicted both physically and mentally remain as badges of heroic faith on these impoverished women who have faced outbreaks of Ebola and its Marburg cousin the years following the war.
And yet these women persevered, and according to John Allen, author of 'The Future Church,' Uganda is in the top ten countries forecast to have the greatest numerical increase of Catholics by 2050. On Christmas day, no one would have found the Jewish king in a palace, or even an inn...He came and prospered amongst the beasts and the cattle, the lowly and the starving. He came to the wanting and was found in the hearts of the restless.
As Fulton Sheen writes, "No one would have expected to find Divinity in such a condition; but that is because Divinity is always where you least expect to find it."
So where does theYCW stand amidst all of this? I hope at the center.
I know I am not worthy of this endeavor, and being asked to speak this May to "educate, inspire, and empower these women to be architects of positive change in their communities" is daunting. I'm like Moses. Public speaking may not bother me, I don't really stutter or balk at the site of thousands staring at me, but the attention afterwards makes my skin crawl. That's why I prefer to sit behind a computer screen. Because I am fully aware of my unworthiness. And I don't deserve attention. I think my editor hates me because I really, really don't want to do book signings when my book hits shelves.
But, I'm not afraid. When I shouldered my backpack stuffed with illegal Catholic literature before the customs in Beijing at the age of twenty-one, I think my mind was already on the other side. Because I knew our Holy was flourishing underground in China. Though Uganda is unsettled territory, I know I will find it in a rare form in the hearts of these women. I may collapse against my bedside in anxiety attacks over the smallest, every day trial, and I may have finally consented to swallowing pills for depression from a too soft heart, but crossing international borders has yet to birth fear. (My parents? Another story...)
I don't know why our Holy wants to use me. And to be honest, it hurts. I don't want to share my brokenness sometimes. I don't like revealing a raw heart always. I would rather keep my pain away from you, and not gift it. And more than that, my pain is so ordinary. I wish He would find another channel. But my prayer lately?
Lord, break through me. Even if it means breaking me.
Friendlies & Readers Alike,
I cannot do this alone. There is no possible way I can do this alone. Which, you know, I hate, because even though our biggest mission here at theYCW is to remind womenfolk across the globe that we are never alone, sometimes I like to go at it solo. So, cheekily, I'm sure, our Holy is making me rely on you.
If you have it in your heart to give this Christmas, I ask that you consider sponsoring our mission at theYCW by contributing to this trip, because without your support, I will remain on this mountainside and will continue to pray that my words will still find a way to these women. Which, reasonably, I'm sure they can. But if you would care to donate, please send us an email at email@example.com, share your frequent flyer miles, or donate directly HERE. If this trip does not pass, we will contact you by March 2015 and either refund your donation or transfer it to a broader need for our site (we're about to totally revamp! Surprise!).
I can't. You can. And You promised.
Xs and Os & A Merry Advent, Carolyn