Tag Archives: Good Friday

God-generosity-gratitude

The invitation of memories

Every Good Friday, I participate in the Living Stations at my church, an adaption of the Stations of the Cross that incorporates eye-witness accounts from those Jesus met along the way to Calvary.

My role is Pilate’s wife, and I share the story of my dream about Jesus and how Pilate was conflicted about condemning Jesus.

The presentation can be very moving and emotional as different characters talk about their encounters with Jesus.

This year, the words spoken by Simon of Cyrene brought back a memory.

Simon talks of how he thought he had bad luck because he was just minding his own business when a guard pressed him into service. But then Jesus looks at him with gratitude and he realizes it was really a privilege to carry the cross.

I was taken back thirty-four years to the day a woman moved into the guest house where I was the hospitaler. I was opposed to her moving in because she had cerebral palsy and was  difficult to understand and very unsteady.  Truthfully, I was afraid to live in the same house with her.

She did not know I objected to her moving in.

Like Simon, I thought it was my bad luck, but in the end, living with Margie was my good luck. She taught me so much about God and myself and the world. She taught me about fidelity, hope, persistence, expectations and acceptance.God-generosity-gratitudeI believe that when memories resurface, they contain something beyond the original event, some message for today. So, what message was God sending me? What invitation was being extended to me by this memory?

At first glance, many things can seem like bad luck, like I am getting the short end of the stick. But with time and distance, what had once seemed unfortunate turns out to be quite fortunate.

Is God reminding me of that lesson because I have been on the verge of forgetting it? Or am I in the midst of something that I am thinking of as bad luck—and God is reminding me that one day I will look back on this as a time of good luck?

Back to the memory of Margie moving in with me. That first evening, she typed a one-page thank-you letter and slipped it under my bedroom door. Her note expressed her gratitude for my generosity. If only she knew!

As I read her words, I was filled with humiliation at my lack of generosity. I had aggressively and vocally opposed her moving in, and was quite angry that my wishes had not been respected.

But in that moment when I felt such humiliation, I was also given the gift of humility.

God showed me that my resistance was just a symptom of my fears and that my fears were unfounded.

Like Simon of Cyrene, I felt “pressed into service,” and it was a moment, an event, that changed my life direction and moved me one step closer to letting go and trusting God.

God-generosity-gratitude

 

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Good Friday

In the days before my friend Jim died, he repeatedly asked to pray the rosary. I took the lead, announcing the mysteries and beginning each prayer, and he would finish them. The nearer he got to his death, the more he wanted to pray the rosary.

“Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”

I think it helped him to accept what was coming and it was reassuring to think about Mary praying for him at the hour of his death.

He savored the words, letting them swirl around in his mouth as he had once enjoyed fine wine. Those words had become his comfort food, his sustenance.

On the Saturday before he died I took a nap after we prayed the rosary. Fifteen minutes later, Jim woke me up and asked if we could pray the rosary again. I was exhausted and just wanted to sleep, but he wanted to pray, and so we prayed.

“Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus,” I began.

“Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen,” Jim concluded.

As the beads passed through my fingers, I became aware that Jim had changed a word, had made the prayer more personal, “…now and at the hour of my death,” he prayed. He knew his hour was near.

While we prayed the rosary the second time that afternoon, I had a vision of Mary coming to get Jim to lead him to God. I was startled by the vision, since my relationship with Mary had been tenuous at best. But there she was, letting me know that she was coming and that she was going to lead Jim to God. I continued to pray. “Hail Mary…”

When we finished the rosary, I told Jim of my vision. “That is exactly how I imagine it,” he said, his voice wistful and his face transformed by a faraway look and a knowing grin. He was ready and looking forward to the moment Mary would come for him.

Jim died the Tuesday of Holy Week.

In the midst of this Holy Week, I am reminded of that other one two years ago.

At the time, I thought the vision of Mary was for Jim’s sake, to give him reassurance as he neared death, but I soon realized that the vision was also for me, offering comfort and hope—from one woman to another.