You Did It To Me: Comforting the Sorrowful

Welcome to the series “You did it to me” where we will be discussing the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy. This will be a twice a month series from March to September 2015. We hope you enjoy!

Comfort the SorrowfulOne of the spiritual works of mercy is to comfort the sorrowful. When I think of this, my mind immediately turns to a young, profoundly disabled woman who stayed with us in our home for a period of time. She had the mental functioning of a very young toddler, with the upper body strength of an ox. Her brain injury frequently caused her to have very powerful emotions which would take over and cause her to cry or to laugh at a moment’s notice when something struck her as particularly strange or funny or sorrowful.

At this particular time, she had every reason to be sorrowful. She was spending the night in a strange home, separated from the family she loved, and with not a great deal of capacity to totally understand what was happening to her. Also, we did not know her very well at all, and we were still in the very early stages of learning who she was and figuring out how best to spend time with her.

That night, my first night tucking her into bed, she started weeping. She wept and wept, and I couldn’t do anything to stop it. I sat with her, verbally comforting her, singing songs, and trying to make her laugh…anything to try to help her stop crying and to be a source of consolation to her.

Suddenly, she stopped crying, looked at me, and reached out and grabbed my hair, which was hanging down in front of my shoulders. With her incredibly strong arms, she pulled me down by my hair until I was within her reach and wrapped her arms around my neck, clutching me in what is the tightest hug I have ever received.

Finally, she settled down and fell asleep. I untangled myself and managed to slip out.

I weep a little bit when I think of her, because one thing I wish that I had done, in the time that I had known her, was to give her more hugs.

It took a lot of energy to take care of her. Sometimes, I was so worn out by the end of the day that I simply felt I could not do anything more than help her to get to sleep and then collapse in a heap on my own bed in exhaustion. But the works of mercy call us to go beyond our normal energy and remember what is truly the most important thing in any encounter.

God, help us to go beyond what we “feel” we can do and to fulfill Your call.

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