Before I left Austin I turned to Jen and said, “I am dreading writing my Edel recap post so much.” I just felt overwhelmed by the thought of it. How could I possibly convey what Edel meant to me in one post? Or even five?
I’ve now accepted that that will never happen so I’m just going to try to share a few highlights.
The most breathtaking thing that I experienced both at Edel and leading up to Edel was just how visible the Holy Spirit made himself to me. To feel him next to me as we planned this event was such a gift. For those of you who couldn’t join us this year, here are a few highlights that I shared at Edel…
Jen and I were on the phone one morning, back when we were first trying to figure out what we wanted this gathering to look like. We paused, each of trying to put our vision into words. Almost immediately, I was hit with a crystal clear vision. I saw that scene from Beautiful Girls with Timothy Hutton in which he sits down at the piano in a bar and starts playing Sweet Caroline. All of his friends gather around him and start singing. I told Jen that this was what I wanted. This spirit of camaraderie, this kind of bonding.
Jen choked on her coffee and said, “I can’t believe that you just said that!” That is the exact scene that just popped into my head!” I had no idea she even knew the movie existed. We’d never discussed it. It was at that moment that we started to suspect that the Holy Spirit might just have a hand in this. Maybe.
A few months later I flew to Austin to do a walk-through at the hotel where we were hosting Edel. Jen and I met with the event planner, toured the ballroom, and then headed down to the restaurant for lunch. Halfway through our lunch the maître d’ walked up to the table next to us, pulled out a chair, and down sat Timothy Hutton, star of Beautiful Girls (who is very kind, by the way, to strange women who interrupt his lunch meetings). He doesn’t even live in Austin! How insane is that? That’s some crazy Holy Spirit-level insanity if I ever saw it. And he wasn’t even done…
The night before I flew back to Austin for Edel I took Benadryl and turned out the light at 9 PM. I had to be up at 4 AM to catch my flight and did not want to start the weekend sleep-deprived. I counted sheep, I prayed Hail Marys. I got more and more agitated until finally told God that fine, if he was refusing to let me sleep, let’s at least be productive. Was there anything he wanted me to tell the women of Edel during my opening address? Instantly seven words popped into my head and I got goosebumps. “It is good that you are here.” Over and over again I heard those words.
“Seriously, God?” I thought. “You want me to tell these women that it is good that they are here? Don’t you think that’s going to sound a little weird? Of course I think it’s good that they are here. I was the one who was so nervous that no one would come that I made my kids pray that God would find their mom some friends to come to her Edel party!” But he was insistent. “It is good that you are here.”
I continued to doubt myself (and God, honestly) for the next two days. In fact, after the Friday night event I’d decided that I was going to cut that part of my talk. But then sweet Arwen texted me with a personal story and I knew that I had to put it back in. So, I said those words and added a few of my own thoughts acknowledging the sacrifices everyone had made to attend and then got off the stage. I walked to the back of the room thinking, “I knew I should have left that part out. That sounded so stupid.” But when I pulled up Twitter, I saw tweet after #edel14 tweet that echoed, “It is good that you are here!” It took my breath away. As it turns out, maybe God knew what he was doing.
Later that day I heard my phone ding. Beautiful Cari had sent me a text message with a picture of the Communion hymn that was being sung at St. Mary’s Vigil Mass. It was entitled ‘Tis Good, Lord, to be Here.
I think we all felt the Holy Spirit with us this past weekend. So many of us had come to Edel with emotional baggage, fears, and insecurity. I know I did. But, and this is the part that is hard for me to convey, all of that melted away once we arrived. Edel felt so safe. I felt so loved and supported. I felt, for that short time, like Mary had laid her mantle over me and was protecting me from spiritual attack and from everything that scared me. I don’t know that I’ve ever felt as at peace as I did during those two days.
Coming down from the Edel high has been an emotional (and sometimes painful) roller coaster. In some ways, though, it has been a gift because it has emphasized for me just how special this weekend was. It has shown me with even more clarity the ways in which God was with us, had given us this weekend as a gift, and had protected us from so many of the things that we struggle with on a daily basis.
To steal beautiful Lauren‘s words, “I think we all knew, whether we liked it or not, that the whole point was to go home.” We are home now strengthened, refreshed, confirmed in our vocation, more closely bonded, and even more in love with our families and it is good.
I would be remiss if I didn’t give a few shout-outs to some people who went above and beyond to help us. Thank you to Kathryn for designing our centerpieces. I am in awe of your gifts and your generosity. Thank you to Leticia for carrying endless boxes in the Texas heat with Jen. Ouch! Thank you to Kelly (karaoke queen) for managing our bio page. That was a huge commitment. We would have been lost without you. Thank you to Jenny. We knew we wanted her to be our emcee because her smile can light up a room and she is a smartie but we had no idea that every time she opened her mouth words of wisdom would pour out. You are amazing. Thank you to our speakers Haley and Marion. We’re all a little dehydrated thanks to how many times you each made us cry. Thank you to Jen’s mom, aunts, and uncle, Pam, Claudia, Lisa, and Kevin. They insisted on coming to Edel to help us out of the goodness of their hearts. They saved us, and saved us again, and kept saving us until Edel was over. Plus, they are just awesome people. I adore each one of them.
To all of my Edel girlies, I love you so much. Thank you for bringing Edel to life. (I’m kicking myself for failing to take pictures with so many of you). And for those of you who couldn’t join us. We missed you and prayed for you — truly we did — and we fervently hope that some of you can join us next year.