Here in the silence of my tiny room at the nursing home, I sit lonely. The diminishments and pain of aging continue unremitting. I cannot hear, my eyesight is failing rapidly, and now, my joy and comfort in the companionship of my children and dear friends has been taken away by this pandemic. I am locked in. As we all endure this new sorrow and uncertainty; as we seek common ground in a world shattered by disease, hostility, and violence; as we stumble under the weight of loss and grief, how can we know and believe that God is with us?
Oh, Good Jesus, Hear me, hold me, love me in this, the season of my spirit’s loss and grieving, in the anguish of my waiting, in the silence of familiar voices gone, in the pain of all the change, in the twilight of my years before Perfection dawns and I am gone. Oh, Good Jesus, I try the letting go, to understand my weakness, to trust You in my darkness, to make room for Your grace to heal. Yet there is no return, only the echo of my own crying. It seems I, too, with You, am caught between the nails.
My dear Friend, Jesus, eases the intensity of the pain and helps me stay focused on love, enabling me to go forward and release everything to him, knowing that no matter how circumstances unfold, all shall be well. Jesus was always talking about love—nothing else mattered to him. Everything he did was about setting the example of love. He fed the poor and healed the desperate sick—never to show off his power or gain a greater following, but because he was moved to tears by their suffering. He refused to bend to the hypocrisy of the religious without love. When an angry mob of churchmen threw a woman caught in adultery at his feet, he rose powerfully to her defense in a very volatile situation, daring the one without sin to throw the first stone. After they slunk away, he helped her to her feet and, totally without judgement, called her to a higher way. The way of love.
On the quiet Thursday evening before Passover, Jesus, knowing it would be their last time together on earth, called his little band of friends together for supper. When they came in, he bent down and tenderly washed their dusty feet to demonstrate for them once more, the great humility of love. After supper, he did another strange thing—he lifted a loaf of bread and told them it was his body which would be sacrificed for them. Then he raised his glass of wine and told them it was his blood which would soon be poured out for them. The very last thing he said to them before he went to crucifixion and death for them was, “ My dear friends, I only have a brief time left to be with you. So, I give you a new commandment: Love each other just as much as I have loved you.”1
Love. The great imperative is to love. Loving others is the only thing that lasts and the only thing that changes anything. Such a simple thing, yet we miss it. As God’s children, chosen and beloved, we are asked to watch carefully and learn from Jesus how to receive the love, and then go out and offer it to the hungry hearts of others. We are asked to stand together in the midst of a broken world, redemptively available, open and vulnerable to all its sorrow, suffering and pain. Our goal is to be true to Him, to carry out His plan, to be captives in the procession of His triumphs.
Oh, Good Jesus, in this holy place of crucifixion, broaden the boundaries of my heart. Soften the hard places that defend, define, deny. Teach my heart to love. Make it a refuge for others who, too, are caught between the nails. BWS