Last week as so many of you asked how my son was doing, I relearned that there is a certain kind of grace to receiving the concern and connection that is being offered when another says, “You are in my thoughts and prayers.” The experience of accepting what some on Facebook called, “all those positive vibes,” was both humbling and inspiring.
It was unusual to say the least to be on the other end of all those thoughtful, prayerful, gracious intentions. There is a part of me – and it’s just a way I am – that doesn’t want to bother someone with the real issues of my life, like the health of my son. All of us have some mother or brother or aunt or cousin who is worrying us. There is someone for whom each one of our hearts ache. And so, if but for the moment it takes to say it, for someone else to offer to be with you in what is as close to suffering you can be without being the one in the ICU, well you wouldn’t ask anyone to do that. Who wants to add to someone else’s pain or remind them of the burden they are carrying?
And so for me, the experience is humbling; it asks us to recognize that we are not in control. This is because there are times when no one or nothing on this earth is going to fix what is wrong or heal the one we love quickly enough to relieve their suffering or give comfort to our fretfulness. We can try to understand the information the nurses and doctors and anyone else who can offer us even a sliver of information that sounds like hope, but sometimes we just don’t know what is going to happen. It is into this emptiness and the desperation of that void that sometimes we allow the intention of the gracious nature of others to enter. I’ve experienced this in so many hospital visits and conversations when I was the one offering that last week, when it came my time to receive well… that part of “who I am” was transformed.
The grace that comes in receiving is inspiring, not so much because I would wish it on anyone, but because it restores a sense of community or whatever it is that helps us to believe that we are connected, a thought that is often lost in our hectic, siloed, segmented lives. I know we often struggle with what to say to someone who is either suffering themselves or who is the one left behind to worry. This experience has taught that for me at least, the words: “you are in my thoughts,” or “prayers”, or “sending positive vibes your way” or even “what is it I should be praying for;” these are all attempts to say that if just for the second or two it takes to say them, “I’m with you, you are not alone.”
This is the message that is offered to each one of us at Christmas by our compassionate concerned creator. How we are able to receive that word – that word that becomes flesh in Jesus often defines our lives. Allowing others to reach out and touch our lives when we are the ones in need, as well as being prepared to use what we have to offer are the two sides of this season. How you receive a gift is often a gift in of itself.
What I am struggling to say today is a thank you for the opportunity to experience and learn anew from you and with you the depths of God’s love that has become flesh in this world we call Grace.
Keep the Faith!