The Wound in His Shoulder

The Wound in His Shoulder

“It is related in the annals of Clairvaux that St. Bernard asked our Lord which was His greatest
unrecorded suffering, and Our Lord answered, ‘I had on My Shoulder, which I bore My Cross
on the Way of Sorrows, a grievous Wound, which was more painful than the others,
and which is not recorded by men.  Honor this wound with thy devotion….'”

I have been thinking about the wounds people carry, those unbearable weights that take their toll on our bodies and hearts.  I think of the old but not elderly woman who complained for months to her doctor about a cough, and when he finally got around to taking her seriously, discovered that cancer had taken over.  She was told she has only weeks to live. It is a wound of not having been taken seriously, as if facing death were not wound enough.

I think of the acquaintance whose young nephew has leukemia, his wearing those large, dark-ringed eyes and bald head of children living with chemo and cancer, her bearing worry and hope at the same time, the soul-vertigo that causes.

I think of that parent in Nigeria, those last shards of hope disintegrating, living in fear of Boko Haram and knowing that rage will only cause more trouble.

I think about the invisible responsibilities people choose to bear – the responsibility of caring for a brother who is mentally ill and a hoarder, who could at any moment be thrown out into the streets.  The young mom, a professional in a high-profile position, diagnosed with breast cancer and having to be the gracious face of positivism and faith when maybe, inside, there is terror and an absence of God.  The many who have put their hope and trust in the church only to have that trust broken in ways they believe can never, ever be mended.

People carry so much.  It takes a toll.

There’s the other weight, too – the weight of not being able to do one damn thing about the suffering.  It’s a secondary weight that is as heavy as the primary one, maybe: the weight of being left behind, alone; the weight of being powerless, the weight of not having stopped some part of the tear in the fabric of the world.

Our Roman Catholic friends have a novena about the shoulder wound of Christ – the wound caused by the weight of the cross he was forced to carry.  My shoulders ache at the thought of that.

It’s where our tension finds a home – the shoulders, the neck, the hardening of the occipital ridge.  It’s the pinch between the shoulder blades where those invisible weights claw dully at us, reminding us of our responsibility, of our need to carry some of this, of our need to own some of this.

Where is the relief?  Surely letting go of the burden lessens it some, but there is perpetual tension in those muscles.  Massage, heat, stretching, meditation: a relief, yes.  But a cure?

Perhaps we are never truly unburdened, at least not on this side of the grave.

jesus carry cross

Sometimes there are no words

angel weepingSometimes there are no words for the things that human beings do to each other.

Sometimes there are no words to express our horror, or our sadness, or our fear.

Because we humans are capable of being so very inhuman. We forget that we have minds that allow us to think before acting. We forget that we were created to love. We forget that we don’t have to go through this alone, but we have friends and strangers who will help us get through the rough spots.

At the end of his life, Jesus had very few words. “I thirst.” “Forgive them.” “It is finished.” But in those few words he spoke there was no hatred. There was no blame. There was no judgment. There was pain in his words, of course. He had been in physical agony as he died. His spirit was in agony, too, wondering if God had left him there.

But at his core, Jesus was love, and so even in the pain of his dying, love shone through.

At his core, was Jesus expressing his human side, or was he expressing the God part of him? Because if he was expressing his Godliness, then there is no expectation that we should show love whenever we are in pain. But if it was his humanity showing, if that was Jesus the man who loved even at the end, well then, we are not off the hook.

Sometimes there is only one word that will get us through this life, and that word is love.

Triduum

WAFT

They say that smell is the last sense to go.

And if

the last thing I could smell before I died was freshly baked bread

I might say that I would die a happy woman.

The smell changes, from the spongy-saucy tang of yeast

to something whole and warm and comforting

butter and honey only make it all the more sublime, swooped

on while almost too hot to touch.

Bread of life

ACHE

I don’t really want to think about Good Friday this year.

too much death of late –

Children and teachers at an elementary school.  Two beloved parishioners.  A college roommate.  Two infants.

Enough, I say.  Enough of you, death.  Get you gone, go away, don’t come back, leave the people I love alone.

That is the point, of course.

Death comes and takes us all away.

We scour the empty places

but they remain unfilled.

WAIT

Manet’s two angels captured it, adorned in their cobalt blue wings;

one dressed in the color of dried blood, weeping.

The other, in burnt orange, hair lifted by an unseen breeze,

waiting

watching the horizon for

Life.

Waiting for the eggs to cook so we can dye them.

Waiting for the child to go to sleep so we can prepare her easter basket.

Waiting for that last burst of inspiration for the sermon.

Waiting for Easter to come.

Waiting for God to do the work of God.

Waiting with

impatience and

hope and

a sense of the familiar.

Manet's Dead Christ with Angels

Manet’s Dead Christ with Angels