Today is the most solemn day in the Church. Our Lord is choosing to say "yes" to His Passion and Death for each of us specifically. I will never forget my Pilgrimage to Jerusalem. It was truly the trip of a lifetime and one I hope I am blessed to go on again. Seeing where Christ lived, walking were Christ walked, was an experience that tied our hearts together so closely. My mom and I took a trip one time to Wisconsin to visit her friend. When we were ready to leave, my mom told Sue, "It won't feel like you are so far away anymore because I will know what to picture when you tell me you are talking in your kitchen." For some odd reason, I have thought about that for years, and it rang in my soul while I was trodding along through Christ's home. Scripture came alive when I read about Him sailing on the Sea of Galilee; I can see Him in the garden of Gethsemane; I can place myself at the foot of the cross and know that truly He was on the stone the builders rejected, yet still became the corner stone.
During the Triduum, I reflect on two memories that have molded my faith and that have changed my heart. The first, is meeting Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. The olive trees that line the church that now holds the Rock where Christ wrestled with the devil to accept God's Will, are so interesting and create a perfect ambiance for the writhing of Christ's soul. Olive trees are short and stout, and unlike most trees that look straight from the trunk, the trees' stumps are created from what looks like ligaments twisting and contorting together then separate at the top to create almost an umbrella feel overhead. Entering the Church, there is a long aisle-way and at the end is a ginormous rock surrounded by a wrought iron fence resembling the crown of thorns. I was able to sit around the rock and place my hands on it--I could FEEL Christ's love through the hard, cold surface of the rock. It was here that He saw my face, my sins, my ugly and choose to say "yes" for me. If I was the only sinner in this world, He would still have said "yes". I didn't want to leave this moment, or leave Christ alone on this rock, and I think about that in a special way today as Christ invites us to share with Him the love He has for us, that He shows us most intensely through the Cross.
The second memory I reflect upon is at Ecce Homo, which is where Pilate condemned Christ to death in front of the crowd. There is so much to share about this journey once you have walked it--obviously we know He was Divine, but also Human. After being spiritually and physically tortured through the night and then being expected to walk from place to place as people tormented Him along the way....I can't believe He was standing up when He got to this place. The landing Pilate stood on is still in tact and is used as an altar today for Pilgrims. This is the hardest memory for me to relive, because it tears at my heart. The priest who was saying Mass, Fr. Juan, an AMAZING priest, before he began Mass he explained to us where we were and lead us through a meditation that silenced everything around me and created a scene that felt so real. When he talked about the screaming crowds to release Barabbas and to crucify Christ, he silenced for a moment and then commanded us to yell "Crucify Him!" because we, all sinners, were there. Oh boy--I couldn't speak. Not a word was spoken. And Fr. Juan said again to not just say it, yell it. A few did, and the sound was very weak. He kept commanding that we do it and do it and do it, until each of us were yelling and the sounds reverberated against the walls. All I could hear was the echo of my voice screaming, "crucify Him!" And then a silence where all that was heard was the pounding of my heart, in complete sorrow. That Mass was one I will never forget--the JOY that resonated in my soul after receiving Christ was mystical. Christ loves me more than the pain I have caused Him--enough to die.
This Good Friday, not only do I find myself wanting to comfort Christ, but I see myself walking with Mary. Throughout this Lent with finding out about Viv, I have felt her so close to me. Mary knew all these things and pondered them in her heart. As she watched Christ grow, it was bittersweet, because she knew one day it would come to this, and nothing she could do would change it. All she could do was love, love Christ to the Cross--the most powerful thing she could do was love in her sorrow. To love through her sorrow. Her love was so powerful--why wouldn't God ask her to be the mother of the Savior of the World? I have felt since March 8 when it was confirmed that Viv has HLHS, Mary has grabbed my hand and asked me to love to the point that it hurts to love. The love that isn't the "happily ever after love" we see on TV or we read in books, its real love, that loves especially when it's hard, or when it doesn't feel good. It's the love that aches in your gut because all you can do is love while there are so many other things you want to do but can't. It's the love in saying "Yes!" to what Christ is asking of me as a wife and a mom. It's not easy.
Earlier I received a phone call from a close family friend. She called to share with me as she was praying this morning, her prayer book opened right to Viv's prayer card. As she was looking at the picture of the ultrasound, she saw Mary looking upon Viv, with her hand on Viv's feet. She said it was almost like Mary was talking to Viv, or was going to kiss her. I couldn't believe it--it proved as confirmation for me, for an experience I had while watching the ultrasound we had at Children's. I saw a woman's face in with Viv. I kept asking Rod if her saw her, and he looked at me like I was crazy. But I saw her, with Viv and it seemed as though Viv knew she was there. She would move when she came on the screen. That same day, I was sitting in a friend's drive-way and looked into the clouds and saw the same face, and I knew I wasn't feeling these feelings, or walking this road alone. Mary has been there, done that, in a definite more drastic degree than I am, but she is comforting me. She is walking hand in hand with me as I walk my Calvary anticipating my child's suffering.
Knowing this, I have great joy as we anticipate the Resurrection. We all know the end of the story. We know it is a happy ending, a joyful ending, a life-saving ending. How exciting to see what God all has in store for each us on this journey!