Every day, so it seems, we feel stalked by the many uncertainties of life. The feeling of isolation that inhabits us can sometimes take our breath away.
- An email arrives asking for referrals because a job of 25 years just ended, unplanned. The family puts on a brave face as they approach the holidays.
- A call is taken from a friend embarrassed to share that the diagnosis calls for meds and group therapy. They cry out in anguish and wonder why them.
- A text message pings with the news that the children have been called together by their father so they may say goodbye to their mother as her earthly struggle nears its end. This is the third time. What terror.
- Following a dinner that friends have so generously provided they share that the husband’s life is now being measured in years, a few at best. His big, generous heart is so tired after only 60 years. And he worries about his marriage promise to take care of his wife “until death do us part.” He can see the end and it feels lonely.
- A single mother with a young son is told that there is a mass on her brain which must come out. The doctors are hopeful but not sure. The mom is fearful and not sure either. The son does not know what to do at all.
- A teen struggles to find the words to share with family that they are gay. The teen is verbally abused by one parent, shunned and told to never discuss “it” again. EVER. The other parent remains silent.
- “It’s over” one spouse tells the other. The children are frightened by the bickering and are confused about what’s over. It’s their fault, right? They love both their parents but now wonder if they are loved … anymore.
Some of us may cringe at what appears to be a litany of sadness and despair. Others may even find themselves quickly reaching for words that sound like “Oh, it’s bound to get better.” Even some others may try and dismiss these challenges in life as “rare” thus keeping them at arm’s length. But deep down inside we know these people. They have names, faces, families. They live next door or perhaps, in our own home. We work with them. We stand next to them in church. Actually, we may know them because we are they.
The Jubilee Year of Mercy, as called for by Pope Francis, has as its core message the offering of God’s mercy to all those in need of it. We are challenged to recognize the need and not concern ourselves with whether or not mercy is deserved. We are asked to notice, as we walk our path, who accompanies us. Is it we who need mercy or is it we who are asked to offer it? We are encouraged to overcome the “sin” of judging so those who need us may feel God’s love in our offer of companionship on the path we share. We all need someone. Jesus lived His life to show what walking the path with others looks like.