By Susan Swander
Sixteen years ago in October, 2003 my life was changed forever. I went to Mass at my local parish church and picked up a bulletin as I left. When I arrived home, I perused the bulletin with my cup of coffee. And, then I saw “it.”
It was a small box ad in the bulletin saying something like this:
“Suffering after an abortion? There is hope and healing available at a Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat. More confidential information is available at www.Rachelsvineyard.org or by calling this local number.”
That was the first time I had ever heard of the Rachel’s Vineyard ministry. Being a good computer junkie, I hopped on my laptop and went to that website. As I read through the site, I wept buckets of tears. It was the first time in 36 years that I had acknowledged my suffering after abortion. That website offered me hope. It took me a few days to make that phone call listed in the box ad. But I finally did – I knew it was time.
Several months later I attended a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat. What a remarkable, healing experience this weekend was. Words do not do justice to the love, compassion, and understanding I found during the retreat. Later I went through a mentoring process and became part of the team offering the retreats in Oregon. Rachel’s Vineyard gave me my life back.
Thank God for that tiny little box ad in the church bulletin. What power it held for me.
- That’s the short version. If you want to learn more about my tumultuous life journey that led me to Rachel’s Vineyard, you can find it here.]
[Susan has a Juris Doctorate Degree, and served on the Rachel’s Vineyard retreat teams in Oregon. Susan is on the Board of Directors of Project Aurora and organization that assists with mending lives affected by grief, guilt, and trauma after abortion. Project Aurora sponsors and develops Rachel’s Vineyard Ministry retreat sites and healing resources in the State of Oregon. – KB]