Our third son married his beloved fiancee just over 5 years ago now. What a beautiful day it was. Everything was perfect. Family and friends were in town from both sides, and great jubilation saturated the air.
The weeks leading up to the wedding were filled with expectation and busyness. I remember a prayer I had raised in adoration that week. It went something like this, “Lord, I know I haven’t made a very good Lent so far, but after this wedding I promise it will be better.” Somehow, in hindsight, I wonder if God thought He might lend a helping hand to my efforts.
What do we do when Christ takes us up on our offers?
What about that cross He spoke about, the one we should take up, to follow Him?
Once the wedding was two days behind us, family and friends began to depart for home. The radiant spring morning was filled with the incredible scent of citrus blossoms. I had been anticipating this day, I was going to get healthy and ride my bike to work. I could soak up all the spring weather and aromatic delights. I remember waiving goodbye to the remaining kids at the house, and peddled off not expecting anything but a safe arrival. I didn’t leave room for the unexpected.
On the way there, I was hit by a car.
Everything has changed from that moment forward.
My mornings, evenings and anything in between, everything became more complicated. Tasks that were once easy, became chores requiring assistance in all kinds of forms.
Pondering the impact this has had on my life is something I do a lot.
What of that promise I made to Christ to “ramp up” my Lent after the wedding? I have to wonder if God is used that event in my life to help me re-prioritize. This may be the perfect time for such an undertaking. Where I had made minimal time to pray before, I have now had an abundance. Where I was too busy to read all the holy books I had purchased over the years, I began to make time. Reading the age-old wisdom they offered, particularly through the lens of my particular situation.
So from that day, my day-to-day has become a gift I give and unite with Christ’s Passion. I do not waste my pain, frustration, or hardship. All of this has become an opportunity for growth in holiness, patience, humility and rest. Sweet rest.
I have learned that life, no matter how well I plan, is out of my control. Whatever is bigger than me belongs at the foot of the Cross. It is there Christ can transform it, heal it and bring fruit from it. How can those with little or no faith deal with the curve balls and devastations that come with life? I cannot imagine.
I read this quote by Fr. Jean-Nicolas Grou, S.J. that helps me realize more profoundly the connection between love and faith. “The way of love is a way of faith, consequently obscure and dark; and herein consists its merit. We walk it blindly, not knowing where we are, and whither God is leading us. Reason understands nothing of it; and we must sacrifice it from the beginning to the end. It is but at the end of the way that we shall see the reason of the various paths along which God has made us tread.”
At times, I am on a blind path which may be dark and obscure, but I do not walk it alone. I share a yoke with Christ. He leads me, lights my way, gives me comfort and strength. The love that has been out-poured by family, friends, and people I hardly know has been amazing and humbling to say the least.
St. Teresa of Calcutta said this about love, “For love to be real, it must cost, it must hurt, it must empty us of self.” My situation is so small in the workings of the world. The love I have been shown is just a tiny droplet of humanity’s potential, and I am floating on an ocean of mercy.
The world is in desperate need of such love, faith, hope, compassion, and mercy. It will change everything. This past Holy Week we got to re-experience what real love is all about, what it looks like, and what it costs. May we be reminded, renewed, and challenged to offer the same.