top of page
Donor Bulletin Header - TOP .png

The Border of an Oasis | Bernadette Reflects on June 2024

The Border of an Oasis | Bernadette Reflects on June 2024

Dear Friends in Christ,

We try to express our gratitude for your prayer and continued support of Eden Invitation as often as we can. In this month’s article, I’d like to give you some deeper context for that gratitude. The space you provide through your support of our community and mission is something unique and growing all the more vital to the life of the Church. While culture war “us vs. them” narratives obscure many honest outreach efforts throughout the year, June is a particular time of tension for those with LGBTQ+ experiences and their loved ones. 

The difference in my experiences between June 2023 and June 2024 illustrates this. 

Last year (2023) was my first June working on Eden Invitation’s media. I had been working here for a year, and the support from my personal Mission Partner Team, friends, and family gave me the courage to accept a call God put on my heart– to share more of my own story and how Eden Invitation supports me through this journey. I wanted to continue the gift of those who shared their stories before me– the self-gift of Anna and Shannon, those who have shared in our media like the Porch Series videos, and all of those who worked behind the scenes to make these stories heard. Sharing my story in that vulnerable way inspired others to share their stories too. People reached out to do Story Calls and register for our Joyful Hope Retreat. People with and without LGBTQ+ experiences had a space in our posts to share an honest witness and celebrate in June. It was a time and space to glorify God and call others to see the goodness of God’s Promises in their lives.

As I wrote, compiled, and posted our Promises Series media, I wanted to stay focused on crafting this space of honesty, invitation, and celebration. So I blocked all social media on my personal devices and limited other influences. This not only gave me more space for prayer and processing my story before putting it on so many public platforms, but it also gave me a deeper view of our core– like standing at the border of an oasis, looking at the Gardener’s work, and inviting others to look deeper into the original community He made us for. 

This year (2024), I didn’t stay off of social media. Instead, I stood on the border of this oasis and looked outside. 

I’ve tried to find a succinct way to describe what I’ve seen online– it’s like a desert full of desperate pilgrims. Debates around sexuality, gender, and faith swirl about like a dust storm. I cannot see into these pilgrims’ hearts, but I do read their comments and posts. Many of their comments hurt like sand thrown into my eyes– people of faith using the Sacred Heart as a vain virtue signal rather than an invitation to His loving plan, and people with LGBTQ+ experiences expressing fear and anger towards Christ and the Church. While I believe many people enter these comment-storms with good intentions, I see them being blinded, stuck in the back-and-forth. I remember how this “us vs. them” dichotomy pushed me deeper into loneliness and fear about my own experiences of faith, sexuality, and gender. I could even see these harmful messages sweep through our “oasis”– our community members feeling the pain of old scars and still open wounds from their journeys.

Standing here and witnessing the pain in this place– this metaphoric border between oasis and desert– often brings me to tears. But as I look around, I see that I am not the only one standing here. 

Even here, on the border between safety and storms, our community members share their stories. Instead of hurling harmful phrases back or hiding completely, they are stepping out in self-gift to invite people away from “us vs them.” Through the unique stories and talents God gave them, they invite others to encounter Christ. For some, that’s been through prayerful intercession and conversations in their home communities– staying rooted in their own belovedness and that of each Child of God they encounter. Others have shared through our new Community Gallery and other media posts. As “Barefoot Royals” they stand boldly and vulnerably in the face of conflict and proclaim Christ’s Joy and Peace, especially in our wounded places.

I am reminded again of the Source of this oasis. Christ’s Sacred Heart is here in the desert of our earthly journeys. His Heart is pierced, pouring forth His Mercies to all who come to Him. June as the month of the Sacred Heart encompasses all of us, no matter our experiences of faith, sexuality, and gender. He walks beside us, with His own wounded feet, and invites us deeper into His Mercy and Love. 

We are all on the journey home to Heaven–a better place than any oasis. Still, after seeing all that I have this June (and knowing that this journey will continue to have its ups and downs), I am all the more convinced that hundreds of these desperate pilgrims have been helped by the unique gifts the Eden Invitation community has to offer.

Thank you again for making this particular place of community, honesty, and joy possible for striving disciples with LGBTQ+ experiences, both in and beyond June! 

Bernadette O’Keefe

Communications and Relationship Specialist 

“Love overcomes, love delights, those who love the Sacred Heart rejoice.”

| St. Bernadette Soubirous |

Donor Bulletin Header - Button Background.png
bottom of page