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Suffering Servant

Madonna and Child

Yesterday I hurt my back. It must have happened when I was putting away the Christmas decorations. I was lifting heavy boxes, climbing ladders, shoving boxes up, over and back, standing, twisting, bending.

I didn’t feel it until early this morning after a night of tossing and turning. But I started noticing pain radiating from my lower back. It made everything difficult. I couldn’t bend over to put on my socks. Standing and sitting were difficult. I felt very foolish at church because I couldn’t climb into the passenger seat of the van. I couldn’t duck my head to fit in! So I backed away from the door and stood in the snow, allowing the adjacent car to pull out without me obstructing him with my slapstick routine of entering the van.  I should have dressed in a clown costume!  Or as a Keystone Cop!

In Mass the pain made the gestures and postures difficult. But I found myself blessed with a new perspective. I started to appreciate better those who cannot attend Mass regularly because of excruciating pain. I’m not sure I ever really judged them, but I know I didn’t fully empathize with them.  So, blessed with this epiphany, I tried really hard to view my suffering in the example of Blessed John Paul II. I tried offering up the pain, to think of the pain as a way to share in His Passion, to connect with those around me.  It really brought a different perspective, like putting on my glasses after cleaning the lenses.

We must have been in the crying section, because we were surrounded by little toddlers and infants who were crying, complaining and fidgeting.  I could have easily been irked by the distractions, as I often am.  But instead, I began to enjoy the company of the families in sharing the Mysteries of Mass.  There was a beautiful baby girl a few pews ahead of us.  Probably three months hold.  As I watched her Mom holding her closely, cheeks brushing closely, I fell into a time warp and found myself holding each of my four beautiful kids, each in turn three months old, cheek-to-cheek, each drooling, grasping, cooing in their own unique ways.  It was a brief reprieve, and I quickly snapped out of the reverie.

Later, the baby was placed in her car seat in the pew.  I could not see her, but I still watched her Dad, caught up in the spell of his doting smile.  I never understood the verb, “adore”, until my oldest was born.  But once she was born, and with each new child, I found myself in awe of the word.  Adoration.

All this because my sore back.  Thank you, God, for my sore back!


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