Altered Punctuation

In reading Shane Claiborn’s Common Prayer; A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals (a daily prayer and Bible Study guide), something struck me. Losing a child has altered the way I see everything, even punctuation.

Common Prayer has daily readings and liturgy, great stories from the annuls of Christendom and song suggestions for each day. For January 21, the hymn choice is, “O Mary, Don’t You Weep.”  I stared at the title and wondered, “Where is the question mark?” The role of Mary as a grieving mother never registered with me until I lost a child of my own.  This day, I read the title empathetically with a sense of anguish for a mother who lost her son.

In hindsight, we know the brutal death of Jesus is quickly followed by the good news of the resurrection and ascension into Heaven. Although I heard about the disciple’s issues and  problems, I frankly stopped worrying about Jesus’ Mother when He returned to Heaven. The horror of loss was made more palatable by resurrection and Jesus’ rightful restoration to Heavenly realms.

Now that I am one child short in my home, there’s no question to me that Mary missed her son until the day that she died. Now, I read the song title as, “O Mary, Don’t You Weep?” As a question rather than the command of consolation. More like, Oh, Mary, how much you must weep rather than an admonition for her to stifle her tears because it all works out in the end.

I relate to Jesus’ mother for no other reason than I am separated from my child. My 12-year-old daughter  was not the Savior, nor perfect, but still, she was mine.  I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Mary, a human being like me, grieved her loss. She was a mother who watched her innocent child die in a brutal way. Even if she knew all along that Jesus was only loaned to her, how could she have predicted the events of passion week and beyond?

I have to imagine that, like many of us, Mary had to reconstruct the shaken 500-piece-puzzle-box of her life  and adjust to the radical loss she encountered. And, I just bet she wept.

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