Monday, March 21, 2011

Very Bad Things and Our Lady of Sorrows

Full Seed Moon

Full Seed Moon 2009: Seeds! Seeds!!

Full Seed Moon 2010: Planting Seeds in My Mind, Heart and Garden

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The full moon that happened on March 19th was the full moon in the Seed Moon. This moon asks us questions about the things we begin at every scale from small project to lifetimes and beyond. This is the time of year when so much in nature is beginning anew - plants are growing new leaves or sprouting completely new from the soil, animals are mating and giving birth - it is natural to think about how we begin and nurture new things in our lives. It is a time for tiny, sweet things.

Tiny, sweet things are scary, though, because we tend to imagine all the terrible things that might happen to them in the future. A seed is taking a risk in sprouting and we take a risk every time we start something new. I usually like to focus on the benefits of taking a risk, the positive potential outcomes and the biggifying good in the world. But you know what? Sometimes we take a risk and fail. Sometimes our seeds don't even sprout, or they are killed by frost or torrential rain or jays or slugs. Sometimes bad things happen that aren't our fault, like a hailstorm or earthquakes. Sometimes these things are crushing, awful, Really Bad Things.

I have been struggling mightily in the past few weeks with this realization; bad things happen and there is nothing we can do about it. It may seem trite or obvious, but my life has been really blessed and there has been thankfully little in my past that qualifies as a really bad thing. I've been witness to some Really Bad Things recently, though, ranging from earthquakes, tsunamis and war to more personal disappointments and disasters. It's not much fun and has turned me to that possibly most ancient of ancient questions - how can a good God allow such bad things to happen?

There is no way I can really do justice to the question, but I can share an insight I had as I was struggling in that mire. My insight was not novel (what is in theology?) but it was brilliant to me. As I prayed into my hurt and disappointment I had the realization that God is there, too. She is in the blossoms and sprouts, but she is in the frost bitten, dead and dying bits. Upon realizing, or remembering, this Truth I was comforted. It was like a balm had been applied to my ache.

I have always been a little baffled by the Catholic preoccupation with the sorrow of Christ and his Mother. One of the popular rosary devotions is called the Seven Sorrows, churches and schools are named Our Lady of Sorrows and the Lamentation of the Virgin - the image of Mary holding the crucified Jesus - has been depicted in sculpture and painting through the ages. These images of god just never resonated with me before (and yes, I fully realize just how lucky and blessed I am to be able to say those words). In this month of thinking about the seeds that sprout and the seeds that don't, these images have started to be meaningful to me.

For years my motto has been "Everything will be OK in the end; if it's not OK, it's not the end." I still believe that but I am starting to see the real truth that the not-OK stuff is OK, too. It hurts and sucks and is scary. But it's OK to be there in the hurting, sucky, scary stuff because God is there with you. I've felt her there, holding me, rocking me, crying with me - just like the Virgin in the Pieta. She feels the suck and hurt, and it sucks for her and hurts her. But we are here, together, in this mess and knowing that gives me the strength to put one foot in front of the other and start walking towards the not bad stuff that is still going on all around me.

Prayer in Sickness

Holy Mary, Mother of God,
and my Mother,
I come before you
in the knowledge that you will help me.

My faith tells me so
and my heart makes sure of this.

In my sickness,
and in the midst of my suffering,
I often call out to you: "Mother!"

Just saying this word
makes me feel better.

When I feel misunderstood and all alone,
I know that you are with me
and that you love me.

Help me, Mary,
and when I am well let me love God more.
Amen.

1 comment:

fillingcalix said...

Wow, I'm aching for you, and so sorry I didn't call. Talk soon?

I'm also totally freaking though about the parallels with all my thoughts about this subject in the last six months. I almost used the Pieta on my Seven Sorrows post!!!! Have you been to the Pieta? It is truly a marvel.