On this Easter weekend, I’ve been in a thoughtful mood, considering what it means to be present with someone during their darkest hour. In my Christian faith, that brings me to the heart of a mother–specifically Mary, the mother of Jesus. On Good Friday, I thought of what it would be like to witness your son’s brutal death on a cross, wanting to never leave his side yet experiencing heartbreak beyond comprehension. As hard as it would be to watch his final hours, how could you not be present until he drew his last breath–never abandoning your child no matter the circumstances.
I know mothers who’ve been by a child’s bedside in the ICU after overdoses; mothers who’ve visited children in prison; mothers who’ve watched their grown babies be carried away to quiet rooms on psychiatric units. No matter how bad it was to be with that child in those unbelievable settings, when things had seemed to go so well earlier in life, those women could not stay away. When we truly love, we go with that person no matter how dark and deep the valley.
True love, whether as a mother or a spouse or friend, goes with the other through ‘thick and thin.’ Often there’s silent waiting– for a verdict, a diagnosis, a lucky break, a shift in a life situation. There are no words that provide the desired healing balm, no magic cures, or easy answers. It all reduces down to the most essential thing: being present.
While I know the value of being present, have been there with family and friends during dark hours, I’ve also had times when I ignored or avoided that time that was difficult. I may have used an excuse of being too busy, or not knowing what to say, or not being the right person. Could have been that I was physically and emotionally drained from my own life and didn’t have energy to spare; there are times like that for all of us–when we’re not the one who should be present.
We do need a well to draw from when we’re with someone going through a dark valley. It helps if we’ve nurtured ourselves with rest and that which renews us–whether it’s scripture, prayer, meditation, inspirational music, contemplative walks that fill our hearts and minds with the images of creation. Whatever builds us up so we can support another will help us to stay the course.
Today at the Easter service, we sang a song by Brandon Lake and Elevation Worship and one line grabbed my attention:
“You turn graves into gardens”
It’s another expression of how God can make beauty from ashes, how pain can be redeemed. Life is filled with hard moments, with the darkness of tragedy, lives forever changed. If we can be present, daring to walk through that dark valley accompanying the one we love, we will know pain but we will also know the joy that comes from that true connection of being the one who will never leave.
Blessings to you this Easter and in the days ahead,