A Well-Read Mom Member Reflection
by Julie from Evansville, IN
My WRM group let out a collective sigh after reading In the House of Brede. This book was a pearl of wisdom, one that reminded us that we have a renewed hope to share what is dear in life and to embrace life together no matter what form that takes. We gained a deeper awareness of what we have in common and what is unique to our individual lives. While it may seem we are isolated in our struggles, we can appreciate this awareness more profoundly after reading a fictional story of nuns, whose lives increasingly intertwined with our own reality.
Those who met through a conference call almost seem to me to resemble the visitor’s screen at Brede.
For months I had reservations about my Well-Read Mom group meeting virtually. I brought up my concerns to a priest friend, emphasized that the physical presence of others makes the gathering so powerful. He encouraged me to accompany those who are dear to me. It was a call that showed how loved I am and challenged me in my doubts. I am confident his advice came from a heavenly Father who loves and cares for my needs with a depth I have yet to know. You see, while our group is eclectic, our lives do converge and complement one another. Some of us have elderly parents. Some have grown children. Some are in young marriages caring for young children. Others are dear sisters who have faced infertility and miscarriage. A few are single and seek meaningful conversation and quality readings.
As mothers, it is paramount to nurture and care for those who are close to us. However, a few of our children have wounds that we can’t tend to, it seems, from a distance. My own daughter was diagnosed with blood cancer in October 2020. At first, I thought myself wholly ill-equipped to facilitate our WRM group for the foreseeable future. I felt very intimidated at the idea that I was to be an advocate for my daughter while she received treatment that I knew nothing about.
My sense of inadequacy was beyond daunting and the scariest drama of my life to date. But my husband kept gently giving examples of how my staying with others matters. If it must mean virtual meetings for a time, so be it. His encouragement and confidence made me take myself more seriously. I experienced a new awareness in how I helped our children, in the way my friends asked about us, in how I experienced how they waited with us to see our daughter’s milestones, and in their encouragement to take life one step at a time. It wasn’t a waste. It wasn’t going to prevent us from accompanying each other. We can respond without being scandalized by our ignorance, weaknesses, or inconsistency – in life and in reading.
…staying with others matters.
As time went on during her treatment out of town, I was not able to stick with the readings regularly or participate in our WRM discussions. But the call to go back was palpable. The group at home was still going strong – they were not dependent on me to continue! Something beyond me was with them. When treatment and demands eased, I knew where to go – where I’m truly helped. Even in my moments of weakness and anger at my circumstances, the call to look at the gift of my daughter, the gift of my motherhood to my four children, and the gift of my sisterhood clarified everything in only the way suffering can. All circumstances become opportunities to participate in the life of God. Staying with others who seek to find meaning and quality in their time affects all our days and our general outlook on life. This is true in a cloister and beyond the cloister. This is true in Well-Read Mom.
Reading In This House of Brede was very much a reflection of the many offerings we all wish to make:
- Offering up family ties and inadequate alliances
- Offering up mistakes and sins and offenses
- Offering up bodily healing
- Offering up discomforts and disturbances
- Offering up our ongoing search for God
- Offering up the discernment of our vocations
- Offering up our children and our desires for their good
- Offering up our inclination to be independent
- Offering up our ideas of how things should be
- And offering up our sufferings so that they may be used for the life of the world.
To think a book has the force to engender a movement such as this in the hearts of us all is perhaps seemingly far-fetched. But it indeed happened, unabated, as we engaged in a deep and personal manner after months of living through a pandemic. Those who met through a conference call almost seem to me to resemble the visitor’s screen at Brede. How can it be that these cloistered sisters brought my sisters closer to me, given all that’s happened among us in the Year of the Sister? The same Christ who worked in and through the community at the abbey in Brede also remarkably drew my Well-Read Mom community closer to His heart and to each other. My heart mirrored those of my Well-Read Mom sisters, and I noticed a shift in my own heart as I was drawn closer to Him as well.
“Who knew a book club could aid in the rediscovery of myself
and provide a real hope in these trying days?”
What an embodiment, and a heartbreak (in the most positive sense!), it is to have sisters reading and living the questions brought forth in good literature. What a wonder it is to be helped by those collecting articles for the reading guides and recordings. There is so much at work for us to experience a call to go deeper. Who knew a book club could aid in the rediscovery of myself and provide a real hope in these trying days? Staying together matters. Reading In This House of Brede helped me experience a closeness with Christ and my sisters amid my own weakness and I am grateful for my Well-Read Mom family.
To purchase a copy of In This House of Brede, please visit our Well-Read Mom store. In Well-Read Mom, women read more and read well. We hope to deepen the awareness of meaning hidden in each woman’s daily life, elevate the cultural conversation, and revitalize reading literature from books. If you would like to have us help you select worthy reading material, we invite you to join and read along with us. We are better together!