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Walking Our Faith: A healing balm for times of grieving

Suzanne Anderson
Walking Our Faith
Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson

A healing balm. That’s the best way I can describe the feeling of attending Mass on a weekday evening.

On Tuesday evening, I left work at 5 p.m. and knew there was a Mass at 6 because I signed up to attend. But honestly, it was the end of the day, I was tired, and I thought, I’ll just go home. And yet, at 5:50 p.m., I found myself getting out of my car in front of St. Mary’s in Breckenridge.  

I don’t know why a weekday evening Mass is so special to me, whether it’s because there are fewer people or the way the early evening light fills the church through stained glass windows or stepping out of the natural rhythm of Sunday morning service and the extra little bit of effort it takes to come to church on a weekday. It’s as if time slows and space expands and fills with God’s presence in a way that is more noticeable to me. Perhaps I am simply paying more attention.

But to enter the church on a weekday evening is to fully experience entering a sacred space and doing it because I need to experience the divine.

This milestone we passed this week, 100,000 Americans who leave behind 100,000 grieving families, broke my heart. And I didn’t know what to do with my grief because it feels overwhelming.

The past weeks have been difficult for me in the same way it has been for our nation. I experience waves of sadness, and in other moments, I feel overwhelming gratitude to live in this community. I am grateful to be alive and fearful of what might still face us.

And this is exactly the time when I know I need to go to weekday Mass and sit in the presence of God and allow him to remind me that he has brought me through difficult times, and he is with me now, and he will be with me every step of this journey.

When I attend weekday Mass, or spend an hour sitting in silence and adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, I experience the healing balm of God’s love as a tangible thing.

If we are to endure and flourish during this unholy time of grief, we must spend more time in holy spaces.

We can meet God in the Bible or discover him in the temple constructed from our silent or spoken prayers. We will find God as we walk through the woods as our thoughts turn inward and upward. We will understand the endlessness of his love as we imagine the impossibility of capturing the wind.

We discover God when sleepless nights drive us from our beds to a window where we look into the sky and see the symphony of stars that play above our heads, singing an unending chorus of praise to their creator, “Holy, holy, holy Lord God of hosts. Heaven and Earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest.”

For each of us, a holy space will be different and change from time to time. But what they share is the experience of a profound and deep knowledge that we are loved just as we are, without reservation, now and forever. As God promised, there is nothing that can separate us from God’s love.

We discover holy spaces created where our tears mark the place where we are sitting. And if it becomes too much, we find holy space when we reach out for help.

We find holy space when the sun has yet begun to rise over the mountain, yet we hear birdsong that is a reminder that we have survived the night and the promise of a new day is unfolding.

In the presence of God, we find our healing balm, we discover the holy endurance that was earned on the cross and found its triumph in the resurrection. It becomes the knowledge that we can face whatever we have to, because the verse “take my yoke upon you” is not a sentence of enslavement but a promise that God helps us to carry what feels unbearable. In God, we find our healing balm, and he will heal our broken hearts.

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 suzanne@suzanneelizabeths.com.


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