Friday, March 29, 2013


This is what I've been imagining these last few days.  It's not real, exactly.  It's not Mary's literal story and it's not mine, either, although perhaps its source lies in a blend of the truth in the two stories.  As I have gone about my days, taking communion to home-bound congregants and listening to their stories and sharing prayers with them, and leading a Maundy Thursday service, and enduring the singing of "Oh, Sacred Head Now Wounded" which cuts me to the bone, and discussing the new deck with my husband and the dearth of employment opportunities with my son and her belligerent neighbor with my daughter, and waiting for some sort of focus to emerge for my Easter sermon, this is what I've been imagining, about Mary. 
My life is of the ordinary pastoral sort, of no particular significance. Hers has become an iconic one of grace and strength which has persisted in the human imagination for two millennia.  But, still.  There is this first night.
It's Friday night, very late.  Everyone has gone home.  She pulls on a pair of jeans and decides that  the cold air requires socks and hugs her sweater close to her belly as she steps out the door and starts down the street.  She needs to walk to clear her head, although she guesses that there will never be enough walking for that.
Fragmented scenes from the day flash across the screen of her mind.  They slice through her body all the way down to her feet, so that she feels as if she is walking across a glass-strewn sidewalk.  She would not be surprised to discover that she is leaving behind a trail of bloody footprints.  But why look?  What difference would it make?  What difference does anything make?
For most of the past two days, she has been hoping that what was happening was not.  There was a moment, late this morning, when she knew that the momentum toward death had become irrevocable, but the reality is beyond her capacity to absorb.  And so she walks. 
Dogs bark in the distance.  A neighbor's goats bleat softly as she passes their house.  This neighborhood, on the outskirts of Jerusalem, is quiet so late at night, with only the occasional conversation wafting from a window.  She marvels at the ordinariness of it all.
God.  She wonders.  Her son.  She wonders. 
Will she ever love again?  Trust again?  Hope again?
Pray again?
A song comes to mind.  Crosby, Stills & Nash:
It's been a long time comin'
It's goin' to be a long time gone.
Appears to be a long time,
Yes, a long, long, log time
Before the dawn . . .
She pads up the steps to her front porch and sinks into one of the Adirondack chairs.  The sky is crisply dark and stars above her head look vaguely familiar.  She wishes she had not quit smoking all those years ago. 
She will sit there in that chair all night. 
No one will ever write an icon of this night.  No one, except perhaps some other mothers, will ever know anything real about this night. 



  1. made me cry...mothers and sons/Mary and Jesus/ that station of the cross when they meet. Very precious to me.

  2. Exactly. "No one, except perhaps some other mothers..." That line is so perfectly what I think of as pieta'.

  3. I want to say that this is beautiful but it is also raw and that is what makes it so real. You are right - only some (but not all) mothers would understand. Bless you.

  4. "What difference does anything make?" is one of my struggles these days.
    You've captured the mother's perspective as only someone who truly understands could.

    1. I think that eventually you will come to feel, at least alternating with that bottomless pit of despair, that life does matter and that things that people do and say, and things that YOU do and say, do indeed make a difference. Not enough to outweigh the loss. But enough to make life worth living again. And to feel that, in some small ways, you are living with Graham again, even though he has become one of the Invisible Ones.

      It takes awhile; it takes however long it takes. What I am finding this week-end, and this is the fifth Easter, is that it's possible to be at peace with not being at peace.