We had a really beautiful Maundy Thursday mass, and afterward I stayed to ‘watch’ at the altar of repose. We had another of our little chats:
“You’ve met me here in the Garden many times.”
“Yes, all those nights in my early 20’s, I never would have coped with the terror unless you were there. And then after the babies were born, you taught me how to suffer the sleepless nights alongside you in the bottomless depths of anxiety and post natal depression – many mothers have known that agony.”
“And you’ve met me in my scourging.”
“Yes, it’s taken me a while, but I now understand that my body is not my own. It is to be used as God sees fit. I have given my body up 3 times through pregnancy and 3 home births – I know what pain is! But You know this already… Our eyes have locked: you gave up your body and I gave up mine. A mutual gaze that screamed ‘I really don’t want to do this’ and at the same time whispered ‘I’m here. I’m gonna go through this with you’. I’ll never forget that…”
“So, are you ready to meet me in my humiliation?”
“Are you ready you meet me in my humiliation?”
“Errrr…. Ummm…. No?”
“Go home and think about it.”
And that was it.
To say I was a little surprised doesn’t really cover it. But then the penny dropped: I’ve been saying the sorrowful mysteries for long enough to know what comes after decades 1 and 2…!
That night we spoke more:
“What do you mean meet you in your humiliation?”
“Let them see your relationship with me.”
“Can’t we just keep that private? Please…? You know i’d die for you – isn’t that enough?”
“Clare, let yourself be stripped bare of the defences, the walls you have built up over the years and allow yourself to be hung outstretched naked, defenseless, for all the world to see. They will spit at you, they will taunt you, they will judge you and jeer at you. You will be mocked. Your friends will abandon you, afraid for their own reputations. Your burden will be heavy. Will you do this for me?”
“*gulp*…Ok, Yes. I love you. I trust you.”
It has left me feeling not very comfortable.
But I realise this is what separates Christianity from other religions.
To be a martyr has a certain romance to it. We see this regularly now in the tragic acts of young Muslim men desperately wanting to achieve heroic martyr status, with all its glory and reward in the next life – or so they have been led to believe. Perhaps I feel the same to some degree? But to accept abandonment, mockery and humiliation – that has little glory or reward.
You would only do that for someone you truly love…