It was love for the daughter who died in her arms that taught Mary Lenaburg about the love of God and also taught her how to love.
Speaking to about 300 women at Life Restoration women’s retreat at RockRidge Canyon in Princeton, Lenaburg described the two miscarriages she and her husband experienced as well as the birth of their first son.
Then the family was blessed with a baby girl, Courtney. Five weeks later, during her baptism, Courtney began having seizures that would continue through a life of pain and suffering. The experience taught Mary that, despite wanting to do everything she could to protect her daughter, the only thing she could do was surrender.
Lenaburg recalled little miracles in the ordinary things of life as Courtney grew up. One of them came when she and her newly converted husband, just after immersing themselves in the waters of Lourdes, both received the same message of “acceptance.”
It was a profound experience for both of them as neither could deny that it was a call for surrender to God’s will.
Despite the difficulties Mary continued to face with their special needs child, she now possessed a new strength to endure the suffering with the confidence that she and her husband weren’t alone.
As a woman and mother who wanted to give everything to her children, the only thing she could cling to was “The One” – which was the theme of the retreat – who had everything in his hands.
Lenaburg became inspired by the Pieta, Michelangelo’s famous sculpture of Mary holding the body of Jesus in total surrender to God.
By trusting through the unknown, resigning to God’s will, and choosing joy in the midst of suffering with the knowledge that God was in control, Courtney’s death in her arms at the age of 22 became a moment of hope for Lenaburg and her family in the realization that Courtney was now with the One who was pure love. There was no more suffering, only true peace.
The retreat’s theme “The One” came from the Song of Songs 3:4: “I found the One my soul loves, I held him and would not let him go.”
The retreat drew women from across B.C., Canada, and the U.S., from students and working professionals to stay-at-home mothers, grandmothers, and religious sisters.
Other speakers included Ali Hoffman and Rachel Herbeck, who pointed the women toward Jesus whose invitation is to abide in him and be receptive to his invitation of love as the source of love – the bridegroom who loves and longs for his bride.