(Written February 2)
I have been attending the school of suffering, that I may learn love.
Not the Hallmark card and a dozen red roses variety of love, but the blood, sweat and tears sort of love presented to us by Our Lord in His Passion. It is a kind of love that gives little in return on the surface, but strengthens the heart in ways that far outlast the roses. So many days and nights now, I have sat beside my son's hospital bed, staring at the face of a child in agony, unable to do anything but kiss his feet and make every breath a prayer to God to heal my child and take away his pain.
I prayed to Our Lady to keep me close to her and to her Son's Cross as she remained there at Calvary when all but Mary Magdalene and St. John remained. His most devoted followers fled when faced with God's will, unable to withstand the fear and pain brought on by Our Lord's Passion. There were many times I myself wanted to flee in the face of God's will for my child, myself and for my family. But there was no one with whom I could share this burden with, and love kept me grounded permenantly at the foot of his bed - the foot of Fulton's cross. Where else would I go? And if I did run away, what of my abondoned son? No. I remained, and still remain, at the foot of this cross and take on each day as it comes.
Repeatedly I have been told that the Lord does not give to us a cross we are incapable of carrying. Not a single ounce more. But after pondering this for several nights, I have learned a different lesson. He has indeed given me a cross beyond my strength. I have had no prior training for this sort of thing. No heavenly visions, no inner voices, no miracles or even a track record of perseverance for much at all in my life. So how is it I can suddenly be strong enough in His eyes to go through such a trial now? I am weak and willful, and prone to all sorts of selfish defects that continually cause me to stumble. Indeed I am NOT strong enough for this. Not alone, anyway.
Without His help, what am I to my son? A whining woman,wanting to have someone by my side to physically help me through this crisis. With His grace, I am able to look beyond myself, and even look beyond my son to see the real message lying beyond: Love. It is all love because this cross comes to us by the very hand that was crucified for us. And who am I to reject the chalice handed to me by my God? Our hands meet and mingle a moment as He hands me this chalice and I am offered a choice. Do I drink my fill of that which was chosen for me, accepting it as an opportunity to learn to love Him more? Or do I turn away in disgust or in anger, rejecting the chalice and therefore rejecting my God whose own blood issued forth from the wounds necessary for my salvation?
Will I learn love well enough to help Fulton embrace this cross with the same loving resignation to God's will? Or will I give in to its weight and fail to teach him what God wants him to learn? I pray that when I stumble, He sends me my own personal Simon to help me in those times when it becomes unbearable. And strengthened by His help, I will ascend Calvary with Him and teach my son the true meaning of love, allowing me to show him the beauty of a life lived with trustful surrender to Divine Providence. For truly it is a gift and an act of love to be able to suffer for our Lord in the ways He chooses.