Abandoned….as I sat in the church after the altar was stripped that word echoed in my head. The invitation from the priest had been to sit for a bit in the bareness of the sanctuary and consider how Christ felt after his disciples abandoned him. Even the word felt heavy. His closest, most trusted people were afraid, bewildered, and confused at what happened in the garden. They were expecting something different.
Earlier this week, I had a video chat with a friend who is mourning a significant loss in her life. I told her that grief changes your address book–a quote from a book by Stephanie Ericsson. We humans do not do well with accompanying people through the darkness as we struggle with our own disillusionment and despair. As I sat in the near empty church, I thought of the handful of people I feel abandoned by in my illness. There are not many but there are some significant ones. I do not really know how to approach them again. I have tried before without success. As time is slipping away I feel sadness at the distance and silence. And yes, as I sat there last night, the sense of abandonment seemed to resonate.
I flipped the coin and know many people feel abandoned by me too at this time. I simply do not have the energy to call people like I used to. I read all the messages I get but returning them seems onerous. Where do I start when I am days behind? I keep trying to find a balance of needing to rest and wanting to be with my people. I am not always successful. I practice self-compassion when I miss birthdays, anniversaries, graduations and other significant celebrations. I wish people knew that in my heart I want to send a card, flowers, or a care package but cannot seem to pull it off anymore. I would love to send a thousand thank you cards for the kindnesses with which I am showered. I ask forgiveness for the many times I have abandoned my usual rituals and you, as a friend, in these past three years. I can only assure you that once I get to heaven and have renewed energy that I will sing praises to God for you and your forbearance of my seemingly lack of gratitude and remembrance of our friendships.
Good Friday Christ was still abandoned by most of his followers, his inner circle. Only the Marys stood by him in the Gospel reading today. I feel the cloud of witnesses sustaining me. I recognize the awkwardness from those who are devastated by what is to come. In a chance encounter this week, I ran into someone whose life I changed through the power of Christ. This person started to cry as she told me I had saved her life. She was on a path of destruction but God wanted to use her and her story for glory and I was to be the instrument to draw her to the Trinity. This person did not hold back and I appreciated that. The sacredness of our sharing was not without emotion but the honesty was beautiful. We were women standing at the foot of the cross together.
I pray we can all stand at the foot of the cross I am bearing together. I hope my heart can be large enough for everyone. My desire is to be inclusive, as much as I am able, while at the same time, trying to take care of myself. We may be bewildered and confused together but I trust that God will make a straight path for us. As I look to my model, Jesus, I know he did not hold it against anyone who abandoned him and that will be my goal too. I ask for the grace to do this.
Who do you feel abandoned by?
Who have you abandoned?
Christ-Alone, how did you feel? Watching everyone scatter? Observing the betrayal of a word with a kiss and the silence of the protester who promised to be with you in the end? The cock crows in all our lives. Help us, Jesus, to break beyond our fears, trusting that you will be with us. We are no different than any of the followers. One moment we deny you and the next we stand at the foot of your cross. Do not let us be lukewarm any more. Let us claim you as the Christ and receive your mercy for our transgressions. Amen.