This evening a couple hundred Catholic women will gather in Charleston to share laughter, stories, drink, glimpses of some truly outrageous shoes, and the giddiness that comes from getting a break from their everyday lives.
I wish I could be there. I can’t, and that’s fine – this weekend we have two family weddings and my grandparents’ 60th wedding anniversary party to attend, plus my husband and I will (quietly) celebrate our own sixth wedding anniversary. (‘Tis the season, hm?)
But I was fortunate enough to get to attend last year’s Edel Gathering (that time in Austin), so today I’m thinking back on those sweet memories and praying for the women who will be making similar ones this weekend.
I have so many hopes for you, dear ladies of Edel!
I hope that you’re able to relax – that you can think back on your home and family, confident that they’re well cared for, and (without reservation!) step into a weekend of few responsibilities and lots of “Wait a minute – no one is hanging on me or needing me to cut their food or wipe their bottom? Whatever shall I do with myself?”
I hope that you’re able to connect – that, walking among those crowds of strangers, you’re able to find a few kindred souls. And that you realize, whether a fellow attendee is drawing a crowd or having a wallflower moment, she’s there for the same reason – to enjoy being with you and those like you.
I hope that if you fear you won’t fit in, you’ll not only recognize that we all have such fears, but also that the very act of choosing to attend Edel makes you one who is supposed to be there.
I hope that if you’ve brought a baby with you, you’ll embrace his or her presence and realize that everyone else will do the same. Do whatever you need to do to make the weekend as comfortable as possible for you and your little one.
I hope that if you’re bottle-feeding your baby (like I was last year), you won’t freak out about not being able to fully breastfeed. Like, ahem, I did.
I hope that if you’re the mother of a large family, you’ll draw strength from the knowledge that you’re surrounded by lots of women who know that particular gift and struggle.
I hope that if you’re the mother of few, or if you’ve struggled with infertility, that you know you’re in good company too. There are more women there who come from your ranks than you can imagine.
I hope that if you’re still waiting to become a mother or a wife, you’ll know that everyone around you was once in your position. And that – marriage and pregnancy and mothering-talk aside – many of them still feel the heaviness of that wait.
I hope that if you’re long past your child-bearing and rearing years, you’ll find some who share your perspective, but that you’ll also find many to whom it will be helpful.
I hope your soul will be fed.
I hope your fears will be calmed.
I hope you have a few fun drinks.
I hope you sit down to your meals with a little sigh and a prayer of gratitude for food prepared by someone else and dishes you won’t have to wash.
I hope you take lots of selfies. Don’t be too shy to record the memories you want to hold on to. (Here’s the only selfie I have from #Edel14, which I only have because I stole it from Heather Schieder.)
I hope you realize that this weekend is likely to be the beginning of more friendships than you can count – even if they’re only nurtured bit by bit via social media.
I hope you grab the weekend’s opportunities as they come at you – on the plane, in the airport, passing you in the lobby, sitting next to you at dinner.
I hope that if you’re a dancer you dance your heart out on Saturday night. And that if you’re not, you find someone interesting to sit and talk with (and together, enjoy the fabulous show).
I hope you go home more joyful, more refreshed, and more tired than you expected to.
I hope you get exactly what you need to get out of #Edel15. The hands-down, number-one, most incredible thing I saw at last year’s Gathering was how it fed people in different ways. Some struggled with difficult pasts, some with the burdens of their everyday workload, some felt anxiety or a lack of confidence or belonging, some sought new possibilities – and all types were fed. All types found what they needed, though they needed very different things.
I hope and pray that this year’s Edel Gathering does the same, and better: I hope it conveys God’s love to each and every participant and to those they come in contact with. I hope it facilitates friendship and understanding and beauty – and indeed hope itself.
Ladies of Edel – enjoy!