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So, I first heard about Eden Invitation through a close friend of mine, Fr. Jacob Boddicker SJ, the chaplain of my graduate program. At his recommendation, I went to look at EI’s website in Lent of 2018, and typed a rather lengthy and heartfelt email to them. I promptly deleted it two minutes after writing it. This is something Shannon Ochoa and I would come to laugh about two months later when we met at an unrelated retreat in Milwaukee. She eventually convinced me to join EI. Which, I did, in Lent of 2019. 

Eden Invitation has helped me become more open about my LGBT+ experience because I am less afraid of it. I feel less shame surrounding my gender non-conforming experience in particular. Ever the “words person,” I have, and do, use many different titles to describe that part of myself. Prior to EI, it seemed as though I had to choose between what, I felt, were two truths... My gender discordant friends that I have made through EI share those experiences and, through them, I have been able to seek integration.

I think the coolest thing has been to see how many people of older and younger ages we’ve gathered. When I first joined, I was amongst the youngest members. Now, I am solidly mid-pack at twenty-eight. While we exclusively serve adults, adults can be anyone from nineteen year old college students to folks who are in their sixties. All of them, regardless of age, have unique wisdom to give. I’ve also enjoyed seeing a growth in international representation. I've learned so much from them all, and they bring such joy to the community!

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