"When I'm sorry."
Pride and anger, those dangerous, deadly sins, keep me from appearing before Christ's earthly agent and asking for forgiveness. The anger and pride stem from a deep pain that has begun to rival my deep faith. So with sad eyes I watch as our congretation files past me to receive Communion, wondering if the small neighborly gathering wonders about my story and why I've benched myself from the mst direct route to Salvation.
I kneel while the people pass me by, sometimes with my head bowed in a combination of reverence and shame, sometimes with prying eyes that speculate about those in line to receive, frequently with my hymnal open but only interested in the hymn about half the time. Last week in an interesting and welcome reprieve from our usual cantor, I watched as a man set up his mic stand and acoustic guitar. I listened as he told Mary's story, and in his story telling I found my own story:
A cold night in Bethlehem
No fire to warm her hands
She gives birth to the Word Made Flesh
The Bread of Life she lays in a manger
She won't understand
Why they come to adore him
But she says "Come hold my son. Come hold my son."
At the temple she holds him.
His eyes have seen his salvation
Two turtle doves behold him
And she pesents him to the world
She won't understand
Why a sword will pierce her hear
But she'll say "Come hold my son. Come hold my son.
Come hold Jesus
Come hold Jesus"
In the streets of Jerusalem
She cries out loud "Where is my boy?"
He's gone to serve His Father now
His Father's house is where He dwells
She won't understand His Father's standing next to Him
But she'll say, "Come hold my son. Come hold my son."
In the streets of Cavlvary,
"Woman behold your son."
She watches him nailed to a tree
The child she bore grasps for air
A loud cry and her heart is pierced
The child she held has gone from here
They lay Him in His mother's arms
They lay Him in her arms
She won't understand why her son had to die
But she'll say "Come hold my son. Come hold my son."
Even I am struck that I view Mary's story, and now my own, as beginning and ending with the birth and death of our children. Did we not exist before, and did we not continue to live even after them? But I think Mary would agree when I say that for each of us, for all of our accomplishments, the greatest thing we ever did was serve as mother to our children. I recall when Gabriel was born not understanding, being awestruck, by the friends and family and hospital staff that filed into our room to see my strange, strong, curious little boy. I remember presenting his pictures to the world on the internet and not understanding how Gabriel's story had grownn and inspired and touched so many so quickly. I recall the way he hardly opened his eyes, but when he did it always seemed that he was looking at someone I couldn't see -Was God standing right there with us? I recall watching the child I bore gasp for air. I remember what it meant to me to witness so many people come hold my son and still, I don't understand why my son had to die.
In the last week since first hearing The Thirsting's "Come Hold My Son," I've thought a lot about the prophecy for Mary recorded in Luke, that a sword would pierce her hear. I've thought about the admonition I received from Laura that like Our Lady my heart would be pierced too. No phrase could better describe the stabbing, constant grief of a mother who loses her child.
But I am no Mary. Where Mary was chosen because she was pure, I think I knew that what would happen with Gabriel was in large part my penance for all that I had done wrong leading up to that point in my life. I welcomed what would happen, the suffering, because I thought it was my chance to be a part of something great, despite all that I had done wrong. I welcomed the suffering because I thought that when it was all over, God and I could start over again with a clean slate, that maybe He would even give me a leg up.
In recent months I have found it much easier to view God as a "He," rather than the androgenous "God." Interpret away.
I gave my child back to God like I thought He wanted me to. When he was born I made baptizing him my priority. I said, "Here God, he's Yours" and I trusted Him. I cared for my lent child on borrowed time as best I could certain, CERTAIN that God wouldn't let me down, remembering how the mother of God had been assumed from her pain into Heaven. Remembering how even the Son of God couldn't deny His mother's wish. And here I wait, aching, my mother's heart broken.
Mary is sometimes considered the new Eve, Jesus the new Adam. They form the covenant of our salvation. And it only makes sense. There is no love like that between a mother and her son, a mother and her child. It is a love that is deep and pure. It is the kind of love that can save the world. For Mary, for a mother who has lost her child, I am sorry and I am full of regret. For her I am sorry for any of my actions that don't honor her child's death. For Mary and for my mom I hope one day soon I'll be the kind of daughter that I know I should be.