Before sitting down to write this post, I awoke to a post on Facebook by a family friend on the passing of her mom.
I see these posts all the time now, it’s something about being over 40… friends start losing parents and other mentors a bit more frequently. With social media, it can sometimes feel like a constant influx of posts about grief… so constant, I can forget to pause and take notice.
This post, however, made me pause and take notice. Partially because I had known this woman all of my life so I felt her death a bit more tangibly than others, but in particular because of the last photo in a series of photos this family friend had picked to honor her mom.
The last photo showed just her mom and dad caught in a fairly candid way with the background blurred. Her mom must have just said something as remnants of words said through a smile still lingered on her face while her dad just gazed back at her mom in what can only be described as joyful awe.
The photo was beautiful not only because of its artistic qualities but also because of how it captured her essence so perfectly. She was a woman who deserved every bit of her husband’s gaze – not just because of her beauty, but because of the way her soul always seemed to shine right through her. This mom had faced all the ups and downs of life including the loss of her son way too early, and yet I never saw her radiate anything but joy and a great appreciation for the life she’d been given.
I looked at this photo several times this morning, and each time I wondered if someone chose a random instant to shoot a photo of me today would it be able to capture the light of my soul like this one? Or would it instead capture the weight I seem to always carry – the weight of the latest stress, the latest disappointment, the latest frustration, or the latest lingering pang of grief?
In many ways, I think I tend to be more comfortable holding onto this weight instead of embracing the lightness that comes with letting it all go. I think that often I’m scared that if I let go, the other shoe might drop.
The Fifth Sunday of Lent we reflect on the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead and the exchange between Jesus, Mary and Martha. I wonder if Mary and Martha felt the same way as I do at times, after Lazarus was healed. Did they hesitate to lean into the joy of their brother’s resurrection? Were they afraid to celebrate not knowing how long his time with them would last? Did they not fully embrace the gift they had been given because of this fear? The Gospel doesn’t tell us, but man I hope they didn’t. Just like I hope I don’t resist the gifts the Lord offers me, like the gift of healing.
Lent can be a time of sorrow. The altar is stripped bare, the songs have a muted quality, the usual reverie is exchanged for sacrifice and penitential offerings. But does it have to be? Or can it be a time when we lean into the healing the Lord gave to us through his death on the cross? Can it be a time when we finally let go of the weight of our pain and let our souls shine through trusting that embracing healing and joy can be an even better gift to offer Christ in return?
Read the Gospel of St. John for the Fifth Sunday of Lent.
Pray with our Guided Audios: Healing through Imaginative Prayer
Photo by Alexei Scutari on Unsplash