My week has been busy with two trips to Columbus, doctor’s appointments and family matters, with which I needed to contend. However, I felt it important to get something up on my blog. Below is something I wrote during Lent in 1994 when my mom was dying from brain cancer, my friend David who helped me move from my parents home in ’79, and who had been a support through the years, had died in October just six months before my mom (mom died April 28th 1994), and my then current best friend, Pat, had left for the missions in Africa in December 1993. Within six months my entire support system had been wiped out! I could hardly draw a breath then without being in extreme emotional pain! Sometimes I believed God forgot to take me with them because I just couldn’t fathom how I could make it in this world without their support. Of course, we now know I have done just fine, but in the mist of the forest at night you just can’t see anyway out. So one hast to hang on and hope for one of two things; either a rescue party, or the light of day.
My Dark Night of the Soul
As I was pondering Lent this year and what sacrifice, alms, and fasting I should do — it became a bit wearisome! Three years ago I was in jail all Lent and Easter; that was a spiritual journey to walk with Our Lord through persecution and jail just as He did. This seemed to give me a “spiritual high”; it didn’t seem like a sacrifice!
Two years ago I gave up T.V., and prayed 2 1/2 hours each day, gave money to the poor, and fasted on bread and water on Fridays. This still filled me with elation and joy at times. Last year I kind of wimped out on Lent, I just gave-up “Oprah” and “Phil Donahue” and I tried praying during these times. I was “preoccupied, “so I was oblivious to everything. This year with Mom dying, David’s death, and my best friend leaving for Africa, I said: “Lord, Lent started 6 months ago, I feel like I’m being crucified. I shouldn’t be expected to do anything in my present condition! I’m tired!”
As I meditated on Jesus’ hanging on the Cross, what hit me in a powerful way was the realization that even as Jesus was dying, He was still reaching out to others and ministering to them. (This is what sacrifice Jesus wants from me this year). He was in incredible pain, suffocating, He could barely talk, and close to death. Yet, He asked His Father to forgive those who had done this, He gave His Mother to John (and us), He promised the repentant thief paradise, and gave His Soul to His Father. He did all this, and probably more, when He was nailed to the cross dying.
This spoke to me in a powerful way that no matter how broken or disabled we are, we are still called to minister to others even in that state. As I see Jesus nailed to His Cross unable to freely move about, yet He didn’t turn those away who had come to support Him. He didn’t say, “Leave me. I don’t want you to watch Me die like this!”
Truly, He did not wish His Mother to suffer as she watched His crucifixion, but He knew it would comfort her to support Him as He died. Jesus was not humanly able to lift a finger to help Himself (although he had the power to call the angels to help). Yet, He helped all those around Him, those who embraced Him as they stood helpless at the foot of His cross.
Some people are nailed to the cross in a nursing home, through terminal cancer, or by being bedridden. As the ones who love them struggle with feeling helpless at not being able to change the situation, those who are nailed to their cross need to become like Jesus and humbly allow people to enter into their suffering with them.
Many times people say, “When I get myself together I will help…” Jesus could have waited until He rose from the dead to do those things I mentioned above. He would have felt much better and who could have blamed Him for waiting? No one would expect a dying man to minister the way He did on the cross. I believe He did some of His most powerful ministry right from His Cross.
Some people say that you can’t help others if you still don’t have it together yourself. That’s bologna! I’ve found that even in my weakness, even when I don’t quite have it together yet, if I reach out and forget my problems and help someone else, it makes me feel good inside. When I see a success because I reached out, it restores my confidence. If I just sit there and concentrate on what I need to make me better, what good is that going to do? It won’t make me better any faster, so I might as well forget myself and go help someone else. God still works on healing my past and present situations even when I’m denying self and reaching out through my pain.
This Lent let us imitate Christ on the cross and reach out through our pain, misery, and suffering to touch others with Christ’s loving embrace.