Good Friday at Three O’Clock Stations of the Cross at my nearest church. They were led by the deacon, who is a very spiritual, kind, and soft-spoken person. The Stations were more heart-breaking because of that and I cried several times.
I stayed in the church to meditate after most of the people were gone. After the meditation, I walked out to the outdoor stations of the cross and meditated there. I couldn’t help but photograph this cross, with the little shroud flapping in the spring wind. The clouds in the background are un-retouched, they just formed that way. I did edit a house just below the cross (mostly) out of the picture. You can see the light colored blurry spot, but it is better than a house.
I have realized many things this Lent, most of which I am quite certain I probably knew as a little plaid uniformed girl at Catholic School. Maybe I am learning now as a 61 year old woman learns, not as a 6 year old girl does. I do not suggest that the 6 year old me didn’t have a spirituality that may have surpassed the now me.
One of my favorite verses in the Bible is from St. Luke’s Gospel account of the crucifixion. Jesus is hanging between two thieves, one reviles him, and is rebuked by the other.
“Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said “Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingly power.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” — Luke 23:40-43
Also, in St. Therese of Lisieux’s Story of a Soul, I read about her praying for relief from her scrupulousness (concern about whether she had sinned). Relief came: “Soon peace came and flooded my soul with its delicious waves, and I understood that if I was loved on earth, I was also loved in heaven”
So too am I loved in heaven. Loved. Not just tolerated, not wishing I would go away, not annoying anyone (I realize this sentence makes no sense, but I can’t seem to make sense – and I am pretty sure you know what I mean). Most of my life’s experience with “love” has been like that. My mother once told me that “we love you because we have to, but we don’t like you.” I always tried to earn that love, until I gave up entirely. That is most assuredly not the way I am loved in heaven. I hope that one day Jesus will say to me “Today you will be with me in paradise.”
I know that repentance is necessary, but it is God’s love for me that saves me, not my puny attempts at holiness. For some reason, this is a revelation to me this Lent – even though I have known it all my life.
Something inside me has shifted and changed. I cannot describe it. I will not say the depression is gone, but it is hiding far, far from the surface. I feel like I found the light in the dark closet that was my life. I can see again. I can smile in the sunlight. I can find joy in small things again.
I can look at my groceries for Easter dinner and just want to shout from the rooftops! Look at this beautiful food! Fresh strawberries and fresh rhubarb for pie. Fresh beautiful asparagus. Cabbage, apples, and onion for a side dish. And the rest is a bit odd. My daughter requested lamb, I could not do it. I suggested pierogies instead and she loved the idea, as did her boyfriend. I made the pierogies last week and froze them. I bought some sausages to grill for them. But I will have my first happy holiday meal without meat.
Tomorrow I am going to 6:30 a.m. Sunrise Mass (outdoors) with my friend, her parents, and another friend and family, and then breakfast. Again, the invitation was all about love. She said she understood if I couldn’t come, but they would all love it if I would come because they all love me. Believe me, I did not one thing to “earn” that. But I will love them right back.
I rejoined my running club yesterday and went out with them for the first time in 3 months this morning. Oh, how could I forget how much I love this? I also registered for a June half-marathon. Now, this feels like the Mary I know. I swear to you, I will make the time to train. I will not willingly give my entire life over to my job. I will reclaim it.
Thank you Jesus for your love.
On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment. — Luke 23:56