Meg Herriot ponders how God has taught her about what gifts her own fertility, and that of the women around her, bring to the world.
Often when we think of fertility, women with many children come to mind.
This spring, I had an experience when I was at a basketball game and a mom made a comment to me about how life was harder for her, because she had three children. It was not the most charitable comment. Little did she know that I was grieving that we had tried adoption for five years—unsuccessfully. We were open to many different types of children, and with multiple diagnoses, and it just wasn’t in God’s plan. I also had just had a miscarriage.
I was feeling kind of like a failure. You see, as women, I think we all have a calling from God to be fertile. Fertility is part of our feminine genius. I was feeling pretty lousy because I was feeling called to be fertile, but thought I just wasn’t able. It was a gift I longed for and didn’t have. All around me I had been seeing fertile women for the past 10 years, and some of them were even now becoming grandmothers. I am always joyful to see a pregnant woman or hear a pregnancy announcement, but there is a feeling of grief that I experience with it.
With sorrow, meditation, and prayer, I was able to focus my perspective further on what Gods call to fertility means. “Be fertile and multiply.” It actually applies to all of us, particularly women. While not all of us have the gifts of numerous children, we all have the gift of relationships. Women are especially called to be strong in their relationships. If you just look at young kids, often the boys are playing and the girls are talking.
God showed me fertility when my husband got a flat tire and I was on the other side of the state: he needed help and I was over two hours away. My fertility in relationships helped him to get help with getting a ride and getting my son to school. Our roots, and the roots I had nurtured with friendships, helped hold my family strong.
God has shown me fertility in multiple women in multiple stages of life—teachers, principals, wise women in the knitting group. These women all continue to be fertile. They continue to plant, spread and fertilize God’s love. I have a wonderful biological mother and I’ve also been blessed with many spiritual mothers and sisters who have helped me to grow into the woman I am called to be.
I saw fertility in the relationships my family is moving away from. Our family entered a difficult discernment that it was time to move closer to family and away from our solid friendships here. I think of it much like my bionic raspberry bush that I’m moving from. The shoot is nourished, grows, and is made strong and then can be transplanted.
We are going to miss our friendships, but hopefully will stay in touch. Our families have grown, been through difficult times and have accepted each other’s quirks. We’ve been there for each other. My son has learned what it is to have a strong Catholic community all around him—he fortunately knows nothing else.
I see my fertility in the young women I work with at work. It may not be known, but other than the DVMs, most vet offices are composed of a lot of employees in their early 20s. I’ve made them laugh over the years and according to them I always bring a joyful attitude to their environment. Apparently I’m diplomatic with a self-deprecating sense of humor. Or the time recently when, overwhelmed with moving and trying to live out of a garage because our house was staged with items that did not belong to us, I showed up to work with two different shoes. At least they were black, although one had stitching visible and the other didn’t. Also, one was shorter than the other (fortunately my guardian angel positioned the shorter heel on my longer leg and vice versa). I laughed at myself and showed them how an intelligent doctor who can save lives sometimes has difficulty dressing herself!
Sometimes, it’s not until we switch seasons or locations that we realize what a difference we make in other’s lives. The fertility of women is much more rich than what you might first think. Sometimes we are called to plant seeds: many of us are called, at one season or another, to fertilize, nourish, and strengthen each other. We are to provide the fertile ground (Matthew 13).
Sometimes I see our fertility in compost. Sometimes our struggles don’t have a rosy ending and sometimes we don’t make the right choices. These struggles though can provide compost from others. I think as I switch seasons in life I will still bloom, but also provide compost for others, and I will rejoice that this may be God’s will for my journey. I laugh and think how rich the compost will become as I age, and I will be content with that.
The fertility of women is a beautiful gift. I’m so happy that I’ve had the opportunity to witness, be strengthened, fertilized and supported in this beautiful garden of so many women. Through nurturing with consolation, inspiration, or sharing of beauty, we are called to give and grow together. Some of us are dandelions, some of us are orchids and roses; we are all called to be a special one-of-a-kind flower in God’s beautiful garden.
Copyright 2023 Meg Herriot