It was a white-knuckle kind of day. Nothing went as I planned that day. Nothing. I was just trying to get through the mess of a day I was having.
A nagging pain in my left side (cancer side) had been ignored for over a month. Rather – I ignored it. That morning, I had finally confessed the issue to my doctor while there on a separate concern. A PET scan was ordered. I left the office with a blank face having dried my tears in the exam room before anyone else could see. Driving home, I contemplated the possible outcomes and whether the ticking time bomb of cancer within me was due to explode – again.
Oh how quickly a traumatized brain can sink to those dark and scary places.
That day was a Holy Day of Obligation. Having missed the earlier Mass while at the doctor’s office, I hurried to the late Liturgy. The weight of my cross made it hard to breathe and focus during the Homily. I tightened my grip and pushed through.
As the priest lifted the concentrated Host, I lifted my eyes to adore my Lord. Simultaneously, several rows in front of me a woman appeared to collapse her head on her folded hands before her. Her position was one of anguish and total surrender.
What was her sorrow? What was her cross? I imagined at the moment of consecration hearing the thud as she laid down her cross at the foot of Our Lord’s Cross. I could see the dust fly up as her burden hit the ground.
I was jealous . . . not of her sorrow, but in her total trust and surrender to God. She brought her pain to the Mass and made it an offering, uniting it to Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary. I kneeled stoically a few pews behind her gripping my cross with fear and resentment. I was clinging to a cross I couldn’t carry alone. I stubbornly hoisted this beast upon my shoulder day after day and in my pride I shielded it from God. I was consumed by this false confidence. I would control this burden. The illusion of control and power over this cross was intoxicating to my ego and like poison to my soul.
The great “Amen” rang out among the congregation and the familiar motions of Mass focused my attention back on the altar. Then I saw her. She lifted her head once again having made her offering and she stood straight and strong. I could see her as the Mass ended pick up her cross once more. Now renewed in communion, she filed out of the church with a peaceful countenance.
I kneeled. The Mass was over and the church empty. Wanting to remain in the intimate embrace of the Eucharist within me, I prayed for the ability to trust, to surrender, to give God the freedom He wanted to live and move and work in me. He had given me the grace to see the thickness of my pride even in suffering. In my pride, I gripped my cross until my knuckles were white. I never laid it down. I never surrendered to His providence and I never trusted. I controlled.
Now on my knees I begged to be a little child with total confidence in my Heavenly Father. As a child I am powerless.
Dear Heavenly Father, help me to be a little child with total confidence in your love. Amen.
Terrified of spinning out of control, I repeated this prayer over and over again and slowly, very slowly, released my hold.