Wow. We have had a bumper crop of excellent reflections on the Parish Blog this Lent haven’t we? I’ve been inspired by much of what I have read and am grateful to those who have shared their thoughts and insights.
I’d been thinking about focusing my reflection on the sadness in today’s Psalm: (34)
“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;
and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.
Many are the troubles of the just man,
but out of them all the LORD delivers him”
It was a natural place for me to go. After all, life is hard, right?
On Tuesday, like I do most mornings, I reached for my phone on my bedside table to read the Lenten reflections of the day on the parish blog. It was Charles Burre talking right at me about Psalm 20 about how weeping enters at nightfall, but the dawn brings rejoicing.
I am drawn to the Psalms because, to me, many of them wonderfully represent our carousel of emotions, directly presenting them to God. One day we are up, full of praise and thanksgiving and the next day we might be down, lamenting our very existence. One day we get the ring, but most days we miss it.
My family went through a rough time a year or so ago dealing with illness and death, and I found comfort in going to daily Mass. The chapel is small, and conversations are easily heard as people walk in or wait for Mass to begin. One day, I heard a man ask another how his wife was doing. His answer was that he left her at home sleeping, and he wanted to hurry back to her because “it won’t be much longer, I’m afraid.” I saw the father of my son’s friend sitting across from me. He was there because he was having a Mass said for his wife, his childhood sweetheart. When Mass started, another man kneeling behind me started crying and soon could not control his sobs. Broken hearts surrounded me.
On my way to the car, I thought of what my dad’s doctor said to him in the hospital after surgery, “Sir, you need to go home as soon as possible. There are sick people in here.” I thought maybe, mournful as I was, I should stay away from church. There were sad people there.
I went back the next day, and Father Pat told us again that we were there to worship together in common union. The relationship isn’t just between God and an individual; we are meant to be in relationship with each other. It started to sink in that if I wanted solace, I needed to give solace to my neighbor.
Instead of dwelling on sad conversations, I opened my eyes to see the community of comforters around me. I saw caring people who put their arms around the recently widowed, asked after those who were ill, and even just spoke a few words of comfort to acknowledge a loss. In many cases these same people had been comforted and had been given hope not long ago. Now they passed the love along.
Tuesday’s reflection reminds us “We are an Easter People”. We know for certain that without the tears of Good Friday there could be no dawn filled with rejoicing.
Yes, the Lord is close to the brokenhearted. It is our calling as Christians to do the same.