“Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” asks Jesus of Mary Magdalen at the tomb.
How often in my life has Jesus asked this very question of me? Woman, why are you weeping? Grieving is necessary and appropriate. If I have not grieved, I would question the authenticity of my passion for a project or an idea or my love of a person or friendship. Grief is needed to process real disappointments and losses. There have been, however, seasons or situations in my life when I have experienced a grief that turned into something else entirely. At times I have gotten quite comfortable with sadness allowing it to cover me, tucking me in for a long nap. And this grief, while keeping me company in the mourning, has in time turned to pity. Pity is dark, cold and slippery. Pity easily gave me permission to wallow in the injustice of my disappointment turning it rapidly into discouragement. Self-pity has taken my sorrow or my suffering, turning it to depression and eventually despair. I have experienced all these emotions in varying degrees at times in my life. I have had to work hard through therapy and counseling, prayer and proper self-care to better manage my emotions and thoughts. “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” It is difficult to know how often I have been unable to see Jesus standing with me in the mess. I am unsure of how many times I have been unable to hear Him asking me, “Woman, why are you weeping?”
Rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord!
How often I wonder where God is when I am overwhelmed or suffering. Why God have you allowed this thing to happen to me? Why God does it seem You are not answering my prayers? Why God are You allowing so much suffering to go on? Recently it occurred to me that maybe it isn’t in the why but the how. In imitation of Mary, Our Blessed Mother, maybe I should be asking how is it that I am to carry on Lord. How Lord can I serve you in the suffering? How Lord can I find you in the sorrow? How Lord can I join my sorrows to yours? Because isn’t it true that it is not if I experience tribulations but when? When I find myself asking Lord, where are You, am I not already consumed by my distress? Fear takes over, peace is absent. Where is my Lord? Where has He gone? “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” I am weeping for a variety of reasons; many of them have to do with my perception of what life should look like or feel like in any given situation on any day of the week. I am a perfectionist working on recovery. Messy. Chaotic. Disordered. All of the stuff that is a part of being alive and caring for others is hard on me. People are messy. Relationships can be as disordered as my emotions. Family life, well, ours can be a rollercoaster ride. And, far too often I forget to remember that this life is not without suffering. This life, if I am trying to live with my heart wide open, is not without pain. This beautiful gift, along with the people God has placed in it, is meant to shape me, refine me, teach me and mold me into the best version of myself God created me to be. “Whom, am I looking for?” Like Mary Magdalen, in the sorrows or frustrations of my everyday life, I want to be looking for Jesus? Am I seeking Him to be my teacher, my guide for this earthly journey? When the reality of life is harsh and heartbreaking I know I need to be running to Him for solace.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. -John 14:27
I have found these four practices to be essential to keeping me centered and at peace. They have become incorporated into the routine of my life. In regularly participating in these four practices I have encountered Christ, and I have grown closer to Him. I have become more confident in His promises. He is with us. Always and all ways.
Daily Morning Prayer. Every morning I get up. Make a cup of coffee and grab my prayer journal along with the daily readings. I open them up and ask the Holy Spirit to speak to me in the readings. And, He does! All I must do is show up and pray. This has really changed my relationship with God.
Mass. I try to go daily. I need this to ground me for the day and to feed my spirit. It is what has healed me and sustained me through many a difficult time.
Confession. I know. I have a love-hate thing with this Sacrament. It is so hard to get myself there oftentimes but once there it is such a beautiful healing mercy.
Adoration. The most important regularly scheduled appointment I have on my calendar. Once a week for one hour I sit in front of the Blessed Sacrament in quiet. I drop all my stuff right there at the altar. I just leave it and pray, listening for the Comfort of my soul.
The LORD is my shepherd;
there is nothing I lack.
In green pastures he makes me lie down;
to still waters he leads me;
he restores my soul.
He guides me along right paths
for the sake of his name.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff comfort me.