Monday, May 11, 2009

Feeling Christ in the Pain

I've been going through a bit of a rough time lately. There have been some hurts that have cut me really deeply, so much so that I've felt actual physical pain, a deep, searing wound in my chest shooting down into my heart.

Thursday morning, as I knelt in the chapel before morning mass, tears filled my closed eyes, threatening to spill over and announce my inner pain to my neighbors. I prayed as hard as I could for the pain to be taken away. The pain deepened. I knelt there, fighting the tears, trying to breathe through it all, begging for relief.

I looked up at the crucifix, and like a bolt of lightning, I realized that I'd been praying for the wrong thing. I didn't need to pray for the pain to be healed. Instead, I needed to welcome Christ into my pain. Christ -who knows how hard it is to be human, who knows the pain of hurt and betrayal, who has felt both physical and emotional pain - cannot heal me unless I invite Him to join me in the pain.

I took a deep breath, keeping my eyes on the crucifix, and changed my prayer. Let me feel Your Presence in this pain, Lord, please. Over and over, I repeated that prayer. Mass started and I kept the prayer going, a slow chant just below the surface of my full consciousness. Tears rested on the brim of my eyelids, but never spilled over. I made it through mass, managed a little wave at Father, and closed the door to the minivan just as the tears flowed freely.

Throughout my day, I kept that little prayer close to my heart. When the pain threatened to overwhelm, I returned to it, over and over. Little by little, the stranglehold on my throat lessened. The pain didn't dissipate, but it did lessen. It became something I could live with, manage, survive.

Friday morning, as I knelt in the chapel, gazing at the crucifix, my breathing was much easier. The pain was still there, but so was Christ. I wasn't alone in my pain. The pain couldn't overtake me now. And together, we would find my way toward healing.

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