Walking Our Faith: In this moment, we need a pause, a good cry and a long hug
I arrived in Fort Lauderdale at 1 a.m. By 2 a.m. I was in bed, but it took another hour and a half to fall asleep in the beach condo where I am staying. On Thursday morning, I went back to the airport to pick up my rental car and then drove to my mother’s apartment.
When I walked in, she was sitting in the chair right next to the door. I bent down to hug her, and we both cried.
Our tears were a mixture of joy and sorrow. Joy that we had lived through the pandemic and were reunited, and sorrow that we had lost a year of being together.
I will be here for two weeks, and Mom will join me at the beach, where I will cook, and we will have long talks. Every moment will be precious, and it will all pass too quickly. I’ll go for long walks on the beach. Mom and I will make our annual drive up the beach road.
I flew from one spring break hot spot, Breckenridge, to another, Fort Lauderdale. And in both places, now that more vaccinations have been given out, there is a sense of relief and pent up euphoria. And perhaps as with my mother and I, an underlying sense of sorrow for all the time that’s been lost and all the ways in which our lives have changed. There’s also a sense of uncertainty about whether life will ever return to the way things were or if we begin our future from this point.
Likewise in our Lenten journey, we have been traveling our spiritual path for five weeks, and suddenly the end is in sight. Next Sunday, we will celebrate Palm Sunday, the triumphant entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem where he is hailed as the Messiah. But this euphoria is quickly overtaken by the somber observance of Holy Week, the last supper, the crucifixion on Good Friday, the silence of Holy Saturday and then the vigil that leads us into the light of the resurrection on Easter Sunday.
That is a lot of emotion to pack into one very holy week, and in many ways, it reflects what we as a nation are feeling right now as we carefully begin to emerge from our year of pandemic without any promise — only hope —that the worst is truly behind us.
So I think what we need more than anything at this moment is an intermission, a pause, a good cry and a long hug. We need to be gentle with ourselves and with those around us.
One of my favorite Bible verses says that when we can no longer pray on our own, when words cannot capture the depth of our despondency because our hearts are broken or we have lost hope or simply because we are exhausted, the Holy Spirit prays on our behalf.
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” — Romans 8:26-27
This week, Pope Francis reflected on the value of inviting the Holy Spirit to pray with us and for us when we find ourselves in a spiritual desert:
“Very often it happens that we do not pray, we don’t feel like praying, or many times we pray like parrots, with the mouth, but our heart is not in it. This is the moment to say to the Spirit: ’Come, come Holy Spirit, warm my heart. Come and teach me to pray, teach me to look to the Father, to look to the Son. Teach me the path of faith. Teach me how to love and, above all, teach me to have an attitude of hope.’” — Vatican News, March 17, 2021
In the coming week, let’s prepare our hearts for Holy Week. Say a prayer for the lives we lost this year, ask for God‘s consolation for the families left behind, for those who find holes in their hearts, while those around them find joy.
Say a prayer for the children who missed a year of school, for the parents who lost jobs or worked on the front lines, for businesses that struggled to stay open, for the strength we never knew we had until we had to live through a year of uncertainty.
If at some point you find yourself at a loss for words please pray these words: Holy Spirit come into my heart, pray for me. Words have become sand in my mouth. Soothe my broken heart, heal my life in its broken places, and help me to hope again. Come Holy Spirit, envelope me in God’s love so I know I am not alone. Come Holy Spirit sit beside me when I feel alone and let me know you are near.
Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson’s column “Walking our Faith” publishes Saturdays in the Summit Daily News. Anderson is the author of 10 novels and nonfiction books on faith. She has lived in Breckenridge since 2016. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson’s column “Walking Our Faith” publishes Saturdays in the Summit Daily News. Anderson is the author of 10 novels and nonfiction books on faith. She has lived in Breckenridge since 2016. Contact her at email@example.com.
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