Reflections on the Stations of the Cross
Jesus Meets His Mother
Does anyone actually say “This hurts me more than it hurts you”?
I have to admit I have my doubts. I certainly never heard it except in a Bill Cosby routine. I can’t help thinking that’s one of those “elder” tales that everyone learns without ever being told, like walking three miles uphill both ways in the snow.
And yet there are times when I know there’s a truth beneath the tall tale–at least in the case of the pain a parent feels on behalf of his or her child. How many times I’ve wished I had that horrible virus instead of my kid, because I can take medication and I know how to cope with it. How many times I walked into the PICU/NICU braced against that heartsick twist as I looked at the masses of wires and IV lines and sometimes vent and NG tubes. My baby couldn’t feel it; she was heavily sedated. But it hurt me.
There are other kinds of heartsick on the way. Every once in a while I snag a glimpse of them, when Alex wilts under a slight real or perceived, when awkwardness or embarrassment sends his tender soul diving for cover. In temperament he is exactly like me, and I still get the heebie jeebies when I think about adolescence. It warn’t pretty, folks. Not at all.
But there can’t be anything quite like watching your child die.
I can only imagine that as Mary watched her son approach the cross, she wasn’t thinking of angelic visions or gifts from kings, prophecies fulfilled or miracles achieved. She must have been remembering that game he played, where she threw her arms open and he, giggling, ran full-speed into them. That glimpse of tenderness he showed when he was only six or seven, the one that filled her with awe at what a beautiful soul had been entrusted to her care. Maybe even the exasperation she felt when she discovered yet another clay pitcher lying in pieces on the floor.
It must have been hard to be faithful that day.
Our children stretch us in ways we could never have anticipated, or likely borne if we knew about it in advance. They give us battle scars we wear with pride. They bring us closer to Heaven than we’d ever get on our own, not because they’re so angelic (though they are sometimes), but because they grow our hearts, our tolerance, our capacity for unconditional love–perhaps when they suffer, more than any other time.