Friday, August 9, 2013
Emptiness in August
The month of August has been somewhat of a tough month for me ever since my youngest sister, Joanne, died in 2001. She lived with Multiple Sclerosis for half her life and the disease finally took her in February of that year. Augusts are tough because it is her birthday month and this year she would have turned fifty. As many of my friends have celebrated their fiftieth birthdays this year or in the last few years, I couldn't help but think of my sister. What would she have been like had she lived to see her fiftieth birthday?
I remember well the months before her death, when it was becoming more and more apparent that there would not be much time left for her on this earth. I remember my prayers at that time. I remember praying that God would take me suddenly, before she died, so that I would not have to live through the pain and anguish her passing would bring to me. When I look back now, I see how misguided and selfish, but understandable, that prayer was.
This reminds me of the frustration that we can often feel when our prayers don't seem to be answered. A colleague of mine here at WLP is going through a very, very painful time as her husband battles cancer. My heart breaks for her and my prayer has been so fervent; a prayer for healing; a prayer for comfort; a prayer for a miracle. Yet it seems that God is not responding. I know deep in my heart that this is not the truth, but it just seems like there is an emptiness right now. And I guess that my life as a believing Catholic has been marked by moments like the one I am experiencing now; moments of emptiness. And as I look back, I realize that those moments were times when I felt the absence of God more acutely because my prayers seemed to fall into a vacuum. But as I look even deeper into these times, I know that they have shaped me into the person I have become, and that has meant some very positive traits and also some that I perceive as negative.
This is the kind of "in-between-ness" that has characterized much of my own life: moments when I have felt the love of God and the friendship of Christ so strongly that it overwhelmed me to moments when I have felt no love and no friendship at all.
Perhaps this is the paradox of the cross from which these words were uttered: "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?" This is One who trusted in the Father beyond measure, yet at the moment of human suffering and death, perhaps knew the same kind of emptiness I and others are feeling now.
Sorry for the "downer" of a blogpost like this one. It's August.
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.