I'm honoring Rev. Julia Jarvis on Day #5 of my co-authors in mothering.
I first met Rev Julia, as she is affectionately known by her community, when I was pregnant with my son. My daughter was just over one year old and I was trying to grapple with the diagnosis of congenital heart disease in my unborn baby. If this wasn't divine timing to be introduced to the most welcoming spiritual community, the Interfaith Families Project (IFFP), of which Rev Julia is the spiritual director, then I don't know what is.
We had been floundering around, looking for a spiritual home, for a couple years at that point. The churches and synagogues we visited didn't sit quite right and we weren't interested in the shame game that many of them played when viewing Interfaith couples like us. I first came across IFFP in a Washington Post article and it felt a little too good to be true.
It wasn't. I knew from the first five minutes of attending the first time that we had found the place we belonged. The years of wringing our hands and trying to pick one or the other religion simply melted away when we discovered IFFP. This may sound a little extreme, but if you spent time with Rev Julia you would get where I am coming from.
Every sermon she gave during my pregnancy with Griffin brought tears to my eyes. I was in a delicate place, yes, but I was also legitimately moved by her words. She was speaking directly to my most fragile place. She saw it and didn't turn away. I felt that in the presence of this wise woman, everything would somehow be ok. There were not many other instances during my pregnancy when I remember feeling that kind of clarity.
For years and years growing up, I attending the same mass at the same time every week. The priest never knew my name. Rev Julia learned our names that first time we visited and has embraced me and called me by name every week since. This image is a little snapshot of what this woman is made of. She collected over 100 of these aspen leaves on a trip to New Mexico, brought them home to Maryland and created these touching "We are all in this together" keepsakes for each IFFP family.