When I was in labor with William we went to the hospital for help. The waiting room was full and the nurse there told me to sit and wait. Recognizing that we weren't the only ones in need of care that day, we sat down as we were told to do. As my labor progressed and my daughter told the triage nurse that I was in need of attention right away we were told, "Sit down, we don't have any room for you." Several times we asked for help and all the times we asked we were told, "Sit down, we don't have any room for you." Even after William was born in the emergency waiting room we were told those words. It would be a lifetime before they came to get me and the baby to put us in a room. I couldn't help but think of Mary and Joseph as they looked for a place to birth their son. Repeatedly they were told there was no room for them. They ended up giving birth somewhere I'm sure they never would have imagined bringing their son into the world. The ER waiting room was our stable.
As we entered the Lenten season, in the Catholic faith we are encouraged to think about our lives and what we might be able to change so that we are living a more faith-filled and Christ-filled life. We regularly contemplate Jesus' Passion... the sufferings that he went through leading up to and including his death on the cross. In our faith we have a beautiful devotion to help us remember and contemplate Jesus' suffering and ultimate sacrifice. The devotion is called The Stations of the Cross. They are a walk through the events that Jesus suffered through. There are 14 stations and each is dedicated to a specific part of that journey.
While praying the stations I regularly think not only about Jesus' sacrifice and all that he suffered through but what his mother went through as well. I think about her seeing her son scourged and ridiculed. I think about her watching him carry his cross, bloody and tired, beaten and torn. I know her heart had to be broken in two. She was agonizing over all that her son was experiencing and would experience as he was nailed to the cross.
I can imagine her grief as she watched him be nailed to the cross and as he hung dying there. The anger she must have felt over the guards who were casting lots for his clothes, the despair she felt as she wondered what God's plans were. This woman was in so much anguish because her son was dying and so many around her didn't seem to care.
In December, as we pleaded for a place to give birth to our son I understood the desperation that Mary must have felt when waiting to give birth to her son. Now, during Lent, I understand her grief, anguish and pain as she watched her son die as so many watched and did nothing to stop it.
The Thirteenth Station is where Jesus is taken down from the cross. When we come to this station I can envision Mary gingerly wrapping Jesus in cloths, wiping the blood from his face and kissing his head. I see her holding him close, crying over his lifeless body and asking the Heavenly Father "why?". I can see the tears streaming down her face, her body sobbing, her heart so heavy. She doesn't understand why all this has happened but she's trusting in God's will. I can see this because I have done this. This station is a particulary hard one for me to pray about. I know that pain and I feel it still. Holding my son in my arms and to my chest I willed life back into him. While those prayers weren't answered I know, like Jesus, he has life again in Heaven. Still, I wish he had life here with me right now.
Each day I think about Mary when she first met Jesus while he was carrying the cross (The Fourth Station) and then again while he was being taken off the cross. The pain that she was feeling could not be felt by anyone else who was there. This man was her son. She carried him in her womb, felt him kick, gave birth to him. She watched him grow, took care of all his needs and nurtured him in a way no other could. Her pain was a pain that no other could feel at that time. 2000 years later I feel that pain so intensely. I know what it is like to give birth where there is no room. I know what it is like for my son to die with no one around you caring. I know what it's like to see my son's body tossed aside like it is trash, to see him bloodied and bruised and alone. Oh how I wish I didn't know that pain!
Mary was an incredible woman... to live through all she lived through and still have her faith is incredible. I look to her to show me how to have the strength to get through each day. I look to her to remind me that God will always get me through. I look to her to see how I should be as a mother... always praying, always faithful and always loving. I have so much work to do in my life but I am trying. I'm trying to remember that I am not alone in my suffering... she also suffered the loss of her child. My son's loss wasn't needed to open the gates of Heaven but it was needed for a reason. I hope that I will be shown that reason one day.
I often look at my hands and think back to William's birth. My hands were stained with blood and they shook with anger and fear. I think about how I held such perfection then. I realize how empty they look and feel now. It breaks my heart all over again. Mary was so blessed to be able to see her son so quickly again. I would give almost anything for the same blessing. I know that time will come one day. I just have to be patient and trust in God's timing. Of course, sometimes that's a whole lot easier to say than to do but I am trying my hardest to do just that.