WorshipWeb: Braver/Wiser: A Weekly Message of Courage and Compassion

Laying Dreams to Rest

By Leslie Gatto

"A sunset is nothing more and nothing less than the backside of a sunrise."
—Craig D. Lounsbrough

On a leisurely country drive, my husband and I came to a small chapel near a Franciscan monastery. Curious, we stepped inside the tiny room. A cross adorned the far wall and windows on each side offered the only light. Unlit candles waited invitingly on a small table.

In a nest woven from twigs and leaves, a broken egg

Without any forethought, and despite the fact that he was not a practicing Catholic and I had never been, we recognized an opportunity to hold an impromptu ceremony to mark the death of our shared dream.

We had married knowing that each of us wanted to become parents. We had talked about it and hoped it would happen easily. As a child, I played with dolls long after others my age moved on. I had motherhood all planned out. I’d have six children: three boys and three girls. There would be a set of twins. I'd be the best mother ever!

Together, we lit a candle acknowledging the loss of our first baby to an ectopic pregnancy. Another candle was lit for the four embryos that "didn't take" after several in vitro fertilization attempts. We lit a candle to the baby we expected to adopt before the biological mother changed her mind. Finally, we lit a candle for the death of our eight-year-long dream to be parents together. We held each other and cried as the candles burned.

We stepped out of the chapel, took deep breaths and continued on our meandering drive, enjoying the freedom of not having a destination.

That day we both acknowledged that our dream was not happening. It did not end the grief and longing, but it did offer the closure that we both needed to move forward.

It was the beginning of acceptance. It prepared us to realize that a family of two can be complete, whole, fulfilling and joyous. It was knowing that as the sun sets, there is a certainty that it would also rise again. It was the joy we share at the beauty of both sunrises and sunsets.


Spirit of Love and Life, allow us to know that our dreams will not always be fulfilled. Allow us to be open to what is before us. Allow us to be joyful even when the unexpected interferes. Allow sunrises and sunsets to lighten our souls.

About the Author

Leslie Gatto

Leslie Gatto (she/her) is a lay worship leader at the UU Congregation of Fort Myers in Florida where she lives with her husband, Doc and her Yorkies, Doodlebug and Pixie. She enjoys quilting, playing games, reading, traveling, connecting with friends and family and life!


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