Mar 17 to Mar 23: III. Jesus Falls 1st Time; IV. Jesus Meets Mary; V. Simon Helps Jesus

ReadingWalk With Jesus, Chapter III, IV, and V  (pages 19-36)

On Saturday afternoon I re-read all of the comments that were submitted last week.  It was a gift and a blessing to read the deep and insightful comments.   I want to thank those of you who have shared and those reading and following along silently for joining us on this Lenten journey. A number of wonderful comments were posted on Saturday; if you haven’t read them yet, you can find them here or by clicking on the Mar 10 to Mar 16 link under Recent Posts in the right margin.

During this second week of Lent, through the artistry of Sr. Helen David, we meet a little Vietnamese boy alone in the world, a Nicaraguan mother who has lost her son to violence, and two men carrying stones to build a hut in Bangladesh. Contemplating the little boy Henri writes, “Nowhere is our fallen humanity set before us as in these little children” as he reminds us that Jesus calls us to be like little children. For Henri, the Nicaraguan mother represents “thousands of women all over the world who keep offering peace instead of war, hope instead of despair, forgiveness instead of revenge” as did Mary, the Mother of Jesus.  The two men in Bangladesh are working together to carry a burden that would be too heavy for either to bear alone and, as Henri writes, “are celebrating their shared humanity and so preparing a new home.”  While the specific details may differ from those in these reflections, there are countless situations of injustice, loneliness, poverty, and suffering that exist in our world today and call for our prayers and compassion.

This week as you consider Sr. Helen David’s image and Henri’s reflection, you are encouraged identify similar contemporary situations. What makes the situations similar? Did the painting and reflection give you a deeper understanding of the current situation?  Are you better able to see God’s presence in today’s world, even in difficult situations?  What small changes might you consider in your life in response to these situations?

You are encouraged to share your reflections and insights with the group to the extent you are comfortable.  You may find it helpful to consider the questions above or to refer to the reflection guide below.  Regardless of how you get started, please share whatever is on your heart.

I look forward to another week of fruitful reflection and discussion.

May the Lord give you peace. (Greeting of St. Francis of Assisi to those he met.)
Ray

Reflection Guide:
Henri follows a threefold approach at each Station. First, he places us in Sister Helen David’s picture. He then transports us to Jerusalem to join Jesus on his way to Calvary. Finally, Henri challenges us walk with Jesus and to build God’s Kingdom here and now.

At each Station (or in each chapter) you might:

  1. Ponder on Sister Helen David’s drawing.  Take note of your observations, impressions, reactions, and any questions that my arise.
  2. Read Henri’s reflection.  How does Henri’s reaction to the drawing compare to yours?  Does Henri’s description of Jesus’ suffering at this Station give you new insight into your life and faith journey? How do you respond to Henri’s challenge to walk with Jesus? What concrete steps will you take and when?
  3. How you will respond? Carefully (prayerfully) consider how your heart responds to the insights gained during your reflection. Are there small steps you can take to incorporate these insights to strengthen your spiritual life
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41 Responses to Mar 17 to Mar 23: III. Jesus Falls 1st Time; IV. Jesus Meets Mary; V. Simon Helps Jesus

  1. Patrice Donnelly says:

    Having read other writings by Henri I understand why this station would have considerable meaning for him with respect to his professional career. It is only in relatively recent years that employers have looked at leadership in terms not only of individual skill mastery and milestones of success, but also in terms of creating opportunity for team building, recognizing leadership at all levels of the organization, and leadership through social intelligence. A more well-rounded approach to leadership effectively includes helping one another. As a teacher, this is evident daily. A teacher manages the classroom and creates learning opportunities for all students. While a great deal of work is done by the teacher individually, there is also a give and take within the classroom as well as team building with parents, staff, other teachers, and administrators. Henri worked in a profession that sometimes shunned the team work aspects, emphasizing the importance of the great professor working alone to achieve great things! This is necessary. Working alone is important, but greatness requires others reading your work, sharing insights, discussing your findings, and so forth. This process can sometimes engender bitterness and division, which is true also in schools when, for example, there is disagreement over policies on school safety. But ultimately, it is through cooperation, dialogue, and team building, that we succeed – individually and as an organization. We have to go it alone sometimes, to prove our mettle and to be creative, but we do our work – whatever work it is – as part of a team.

  2. Patrice Donnelly says:

    Henri reflects on Jesus meeting Mary during his passion and considers her great strength of forgiveness. One might ask, why not fight back? Mary is, however, fighting back. She is not giving in. She is daring to greet her son even in the midst of a horror, and daring to hope for new life through forgiveness. This is not a cowardly act. There is more to gain by remaining steadfast in this case than in striking out. To stand with hatred would eventually extinguish love, so she stands in love and forgiveness. Henri’s comparison to the Nicaraguan woman and others who have forgiven oppressors in the hope of finding a new way forward is a sign of great strength. It is also a part of our salvation.

  3. Patrice Donnelly says:

    Henri’s reflection provides us with a deeper look into our fallen humanity. It shows the failings of humanity and our own frailty. The picture of the young Vietnamese boy, alone and suffering also compels us to reach out. It is a sad but also beautiful drawing. It reminds us that not only are we frail, not only does humankind fail, but that turning our backs to suffering is not an option. These pictures are important reminders, because it is too often easier to look the other way. Yet, if Jesus had fallen and never completed his journey, our promise of salvation would have vanished. It is important to understand that humans fail, are frail, and both cause and endure suffering. Our part in all of this includes reaching out to those in need. The story ends unfulfilled if we do not reach out.

  4. Ernie Rivard says:

    Patricia –
    Thank you for your prayer and encouragement. Indeed the prayer has become more raw and true this past week for me.
    There has been no change in Luke the last few days, however the good news is all tests at the hospital have not picked up any major problems. We continue to live in the hope that this episode will pass and Luke’s walking will be restored. I leave for Maine early tomorrow.
    Again, thanks. I hope your Lent is going well.
    Christ’s Peace …. Ernie

  5. Chris Hoffman says:

    God shows us a way to live our lives being amongst people where we are not defending our path. We are not defending the validity of God to a skeptical world. We are encouraged to carry Jesus’s cross and let it impact our lives to the core. Our lives are not dependent on our prevailing against forces adversarial towards God. God shows us that we are like seed planted into the ground where we die. And in the death which the cross points us towards life comes forth.

    We see this on page 34 with the following words from Henri Nouwen:

    “To his followers who wanted to defend him with their swords Jesus said, ‘Put your sword back…Or do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, who would promptly send more than twelve legions of Angels to my defense?’”

  6. Chris Hoffman says:

    On page 29 Henri Nouwen speaks to us of a mystery as follows:

    “It is this mystery of union in suffering that hope is hidden.”

    He follows these words with the following:

    “Oppressors come and go, and come again. My heart knows this even when I do whatever I can to resist the oppressor and struggle for peace. I have to keep choosing the ever-narrowing path, the path of sorrow, the path of hope.”

    In Lamentations 3:28-30 from The Message translation this narrow path to finding hope is presented to us:

    “When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions: Wait for hope to appear.”

    And why does this hope appear.

    “Because the Master won’t ever walk out and fail to return. If he works severely, he also works tenderly. His stockpiles of loyal love are immense.”
    (Lamentations 3:31-33, The Message).

    God’s tenderness and love are making known to us as Henri Nouwen tells us that we are God’s beloved.

    • Liz Forest says:

      Thanks Chris for reminding whence our hope comes from. Immense love is what is ever before me. I am thinking of Lamentations 3, 22-24
      The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;
      23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
      24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”

  7. Ernie Rivard says:

    Prayers please ….
    Somehow mysteriously and unexpectedly I have been brought to step into the Passion story we are walking this week.
    35 years ago a young couple brought their 2-year-old son to Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia with an unknown affliction. He endured periods of losing power in his legs and was unable to walk for hours. These spells would come and go but began occurring most days. The parents felt scared and helpless. They found comfort in prayer but also felt lost in a great unknown valley. After many months, a young doctor identified a rare metabolic disease in the boy. Some supplements were prescribed, helped a bit but the disease did not have a cure. Over the years and studies by physicians all over North America, the disease, which was found to have various manifestations in several other children, came to be classified in a new area of metabolic studies called “Mitocondrial Disease.”
    That young couple was my wife, Natalie, and me. That boy was my son, Greg.
    Greg is 37 now. He can walk but unsteadily. He falls frequently. He never was able to ride a bike or drive a car. Surprisingly, even though he has had to struggle every day of his life, Greg has been a remarkably pleasant kid.
    But Greg’s story weighs on me this week. I need to listen carefully to our three stations … the “lost child,” the woman of heartache, the people of accompaniment.

    I say I am so drawn into this week of the Passion because just a few days ago my daughter in Maine (4+ hours away from us) called us in a panic. She was taking her 13-month-old son, Luke, (our grandson) to a hospital an hour away from their home. Her son’s physician was sending them there because, while the boy had not been feeling well for a few weeks, now he didn’t have the strength to get up on his own and he couldn’t walk as he had been doing for a month. Now, for the last few nights I have been listening by phone to his young mother, my daughter. She and her husband are confronted with the unknown as more and more tests are run. There is fear, sadness, and exhaustion in their voices. I see poor Luke in the Sr. Helen’s child illustration of Station 3 and my heart breaks. I see my daughter in the face of the woman illustrated in Station 4 and I pray for her strength. I pray too that the efforts of all (health care workers, family and prayer partners) like the burden-bearers in the Station 5 illustration may bring the healing grace of accompaniment. We hope that this is just a reaction to a recent mmr inoculation and that problems will pass for Luke that he can walk again.
    I expect to travel to Maine in a few days to assist in any way I can helping to care for Luke’s 3-year-old sister.
    Dear brothers and sisters, I beg your prayers for little Luke and his family. May God’s loving will be done. Sorry to go on so long but grateful for your listening.

    • Ray Glennon says:

      Ernie,
      Thank you for sharing your story and your burden. I will be conducting a tour at the Shrine of St. Anthony in Ellicott City, Maryland tomorrow and will offer a special prayer for the intercession of St. Anthony of Padua and St. Maximilian Kolbe for your grandson Luke and your entire family.
      May the Lord give you peace at this difficult time.
      Ray

    • Patricia Hesse says:

      Dear Ernie, you are, indeed, walking in the Passion story of our Lord. If there is anything worse than dealing with the serious affliction of our own child, it is watching a daughter travel a journey much like you have. I have been in both situations, although the details are different. Fear consumed me. In my heart, I knew that the Father was closer to me than ever before, but I was powerless to escape my fear. I confess that praying “Thy will be done,” failed to comfort me. What if God’s will was not my will? I do know this –throughout my life, it is my times of helplessness that I truly seek the presence of the Lord. I pray more and deeper in a way that is raw and true. I read the Bible with new eyes and find a heightened compassion for others who are struggling. The so-called “good times” tempt me to depend on myself and take my blessings for granted. I finally decided that having no problems is a huge problem for me. However, in the midst of my pain for those I love, if someone were to ask me, “Is this pain worth what you are learning?” I’m not certain my reply would always be what it should be. I do know that when I’ve come to the other side of my pain –to acceptance of what I cannot change or to the gratitude for what God did with my problem –I know with all my being that my pain was a blessing. I will be praying for Greg, your wife, for your fragile daughter, for your son-in-law, and for little Luke and his little sister. I will be praying for you. I know your daughter will feel your love and strength and find a safe place to cry. She will also know you truly do understand how she feels.

    • Marge says:

      Praying God enfolds all of you with His comforting love, brings healing and hope…safe travels as you go to be with your loved ones, Ernie.

    • Chris Hoffman says:

      Ernie,
      I am praying Psalm 23:5 for you and your daughter and all of your family:

      “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”

      In the midst of all your struggles God so desires to feast and embrace you.

    • Liz Forest says:

      Ernie, may the love of God strengthen you and your family; may the Good Shepherd guide the medical team treating Luke. Henri reminds us:
      “God’s love for his people should not be forgotten. It should remain with us in the present. When everything is dark, when we are surrounded by despairing voices, when we do not see any exits, then we can find salvation in a remembered love, a love that is not simply a wistful recollection of a bygone past, but a living force that sustains us in the present. Love transcends the limits of time and offers hope at any moment of our lives.” (from You Are Beloved)

    • Mary Fitzpatrick says:

      Ernie I hear you and will keep your family in my prayers. I hope it is a short-lived affliction.

    • Phil Smith says:

      Prayers and thoughts with you at this time Ernie. You can see your compassion burning through this pain by what you write. I am sure your support for your daughter will be a light in her darkness. May God’s enfolding love be around you and your family.
      Phil

    • Debbie Vaughn says:

      Prayers for you and your family. This is a beautiful reflection brought about through your own family’s tribulation. May you find the answers soon and calmness cove ryou all.

    • Vanessa Gordon says:

      Ernie,
      You and your family are in my prayers. Praying God will give you strength to support your daughter and praying for healing for Luke.
      Vanessa

  8. Elaine M says:

    Station IV
    As mothers, many of us experienced the momentary panic when our young child darted around the corner in a store and ducked under a clothes rack, finding it funny to play hide-and-seek with Mommy. We worried again when our teen was fifteen minutes late for curfew or when our young adult child drove off in the dark for the four-hour trip back to her new apartment in a new city. We prayed to the Mother of Jesus, who searched for her lost twelve-year-old. We grandmothers continue to worry about the health and safety of multiple generations of loved ones. I regularly pray to Mary and all of the mother saints in heaven, and I ask my own sainted deceased mom, grandmother, aunts, and sister—all of whom experienced similar worries in their lives—to keep an eye on my loved ones and to allay my fears. But all of my fears pale in comparison to the sorrowful mothers Henri notes in his commentary on the fourth Station: mothers who have lost their children to street violence, bombings, malnutrition, or racist hatred. We mourn with the mothers who have recently been separated from their children at the US-Mexico border or through human trafficking, seizure by drug cartels, or paramilitary groups. We mourn with mothers who must face the heartaches of raising a child with disabilities or chronic illnesses. When I was much younger, I found it somewhat unsettling to see a painting of the Blessed Mother with her heart exposed outside her robe, but now that I am a mother, that depiction seems apt. To love that deeply means the most profound kind of joy but the most wrenching sorrow as well. However, as Henri says, Mary’s own “sorrow has made her heart a heart that embraces all her children,” and that indeed is a great consolation.

  9. Ray Glennon says:

    Friends,
    Thanks to those of you have shared such deep and meaningful comments. Your reflections and insights enrich the Lenten journey of us all.

    Many of you have commented on how Sr. Helen David’s paintings served as “window” leading to a deeper understanding of suffering and the human condition. I re-looked at paintings we have encountered in the readings to-date. I was especially drawn to the painting in the Introduction (p. 2) that shows the lower leg and foot of a person “in worn-out sandals . . . walking the roadsides of our world.” It seems to me that, this painting differs in one small but deeply meaningful way from all the others.

    In the paintings for each Station it is clear that we are looking through the cross-shaped window onto the scene of a prisoner, a man carrying wood for coffins, a young child left behind, or a grieving mother with a soldier in the background.

    However, in the painting in the Introduction the right big toe and tip of the sandal are projecting through the window and obscuring the lower right hand arc of the window cross. Furthermore, the entire foot appears ready to directly and immediately “step through” the window. It is as if this person “in worn-out sandals” provides the bridge from the world of the poor and suffering outside the window in the paintings to the world of the observer–to our world. Is Sr. Helen David is showing us the foot of Jesus? I think she might be. If that is the case, is Jesus walking into our lives help us to see the poor and suffering as they really are and then inviting us to “come after me” (Mk 1:17) and step outside in love and compassion rather than simply looking through the window? How will we respond?

    I have no idea if this makes any sense, but I wanted to share.

    Thanks to all for joining this journey. It’s a blessing to join you this Lent.
    Ray

    • Liz Forest says:

      Surely, Ray, your artistic eye gaze is meaningful. Makes sense that Jesus would be the first One to step out of his comfort zone to reach needy persons. Can I follow his example? That’s the life-long question. I am reminded when I see the painting about the walking Jesus did on dirt roads, uneven paths, and through dry land. His feet are dirty! Who will he ask to wash them? His followers will do the service, not because they want to. Peter protested but then did wash Jesus feet. There’s someone waiting today for me to wash his/her feet, not literally but in an act of love.

    • Marge says:

      Thank you, Ray…I returned to that first image upon reading your post…I was reminded of Jesus washing His disciples feet in John 13 and saying “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” As I have traveled this Lenten journey thus far, I am aware of what I may not understand, yet I trust that God through Jesus example and question later in John 13, “Do you understand what I have done to you…..Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.”, is at work through our most Holy Spirit serving as my Teacher, Lord, Guide, and finally, Saviour, leading my way in humble obedience…certainly becomes more than a window to look through, am I willing to keep walking/participating, whether I understand or not? Yes, thank you for giving me permission, Ray, for not always being able to make sense of what Jesus is about doing, but being willing to take a step at a time. There’s a song, “In His Time…..He makes all things beautiful in His time….Lord, please show me everyday, as You’re teaching me Your way, that You do just what You say, in Your time.” Trustingly…..

  10. Liz Forest says:

    A mother’s love is all-encompassing…Station 4 Jesus Meets Mary and sees the sword piercing her heart; feels her pain but does not say “I will overcome all this.” No words necessary. Their eyes speak love. She will stand with him in his agony and death, even though she’s not aware of what his rising will mean. She trusts his word.
    Madonnas have been depicted by numerous artists over the centuries. Each one more beautiful than the other. I wonder how Mary’s life was lived out after Jesus’s ascension.
    Was she happy? Did she find ways to love John as her second son? Just wondering.

  11. Beth says:

    Station 5, Simon Helps Jesus Carry His Cross:
    page 35, “It is very hard for me to believe that spiritual maturity is a willingness to let others guide me and ‘lead me even where I would not go.’ (John 21:18).

    On Sunday evening our church had a Lenten Service of Reflection and Prayer. The Holy Spirit showed me that I needed to forgive my sister-in-law who initiated divorce from my brother. There was a bowl of water on the altar, and a portrait of the face of Jesus, which helped me know that I needed to be purged from my anger. I touched the water to my face and heart, and yesterday emailed my sister-in-law to ask for forgiveness. It was a place where I did not want to go but God gently and firmly led the way. It’s the way toward freedom and helping my relative carry her heavy load.

    Please pray that she will accept my forgiveness offered way too late. Thanks.

    • Liz Forest says:

      You are blessed, Beth, to have participated in that Lenten service offered at your church. That cleansing ritual had deep meaning for you; grace was given you to forgive, It reminds me of a similar time at a ritual when we had a Parish Mission. Like you I took part and was given grace to forgive a sibling. The cross of carrying unforgiveness is too heavy so I’m relieved to be free of it. Even if your sister-in-law does not accept your forgiving gesture/words, what counts is that you initiated the reconciliation.

      I see in Station 4 Simon helps to carry Jesus’ cross, probably forced to or at least not willingly. He doesn’t want to be next to a condemned man, a person who might challenge his beliefs, and a known healer. Maybe he’s holding onto his own cross plus Jesus’ cross so it’s a double weight No one is an island. We’re in this together, whether we like it or not. We are commanded to love those who annoy, hurt, disagree with, etc. our mindset. The two men pictured in the painting are in Bangladesh, working together to carry a burden that would be too heavy for either to bear alone and, as Henri writes, “are celebrating their shared humanity and so preparing a new home.”
      I relate to that idea as we are in Lent when we are given time to prepare our hearts for the new life Christ promises to give each one of us. Lord, in my heart home, give me a clean heart, a new heart, a compassionate heart.

      • Beth says:

        Thank you so much for taking a few minutes to tell me your story, Liz. It nourished me!

        I’m now praying during Lent with you for what you are asking God for: a clean heart, a new heart, a compassionate heart.

        May it be so,
        Beth

      • Chris Hoffman says:

        Liz,

        You are so very right with these words you have shared:

        “Even if your sister-in-law does not accept your forgiving gesture/words, what counts is that you initiated the reconciliation.”

        I have been hurt and suffered through grieving as a result of my own siblings. In time I have reached out to renew our relationship which has not been reciprocated. I am encouraged and set free from my hurt and grief in the reaching out and not in the response or lack of response. Thank you very much in voicing not only from your experience but one that is found in me.

  12. Liz Forest says:

    I’m looking at Station 3 photo and I’m reminded of all the young ones I have met in my 20+ years of teaching. Some so vulnerable due to childhood illness or home situations.
    One young boy suffered from cystic fibrosis; his father was a doctor yet he could not cure his boy. There was a boy who was labeled “Crack baby” by a few cruel kids. His mother was addicted to drugs when he was born. He clearly had issues and acted out frequently, seeking much attention. How these little ones suffer today when we see photos on the news! Famine, exile, parents dead by gun violence, etc. Yet there are children who shine like the stars by their talents, goodness are gifts to the world. Let’s hope the next generation will bring hope to the hopeless.

    I asked myself about my childlike cries for comfort, mercy; for a safe place, for light in darkness. Yes, I do cry out like a child because Jesus taught us to pray like this, “Our Father…give me this day what I need….lead me…deliver me from evil…
    Jesus falls into the dirt, “humus” from which the word “Human” is derived. He does not hide his humanity. He accepts who he is. May I do the same.

  13. Elaine M says:

    Station V
    Like Henri, I have known poor people who work, eat, play, pray, and find strength within their our families and neighborhood. However, I might question the idea that
    “poor people have time.” A single mom working two minimum-wage jobs, tending to her family and apartment, and grabbing a few hours of sleep while the kids are at school is incredibly strapped for time. Often when we at St. Vincent de Paul make a home visit, such a mom is so stressed and exhausted that she can hardly focus on the questions we are asking about prioritizing all of her overdue bills. We may offer other resources, but she has no time to sit for hours in a county human services agency or the food bank. She may neglect her own health because she doesn’t have time to get to the clinic. She lives by what we call “the tyranny of the moment.” While some in her situation may find support within their own communities, some ironically feel more alienated from such a community because their multiple jobs prevent them from going to church pot lucks or neighbors’ birthday parties. So our mission is to find some way that we can help to carry her cross, to lighten her stress load, and to free up some time. We might go to the food bank on her behalf, cut through the red tape for food stamps or a utility payment plan, or set her up with an employment counselor who may find her a better paying job. We can only pray that some day soon she can find at least though Sabbath moments that feed her soul.

  14. Chris Hoffman says:

    The burdens of this world are oppressive. They imprison children and adult alike and may have visited ourselves also. We can struggle with the magnitude of this weight and slip ourselves into despair convincing us that lending our time and hand is an exercise of futility. Henri Nouwen encourages us on page 24 as follows:

    “He (God) wants me to discover that beyond all emotions of rejection and abandonment there is love, real love, lasting love, love that comes from God who became flesh and who will never leave his children alone.”

    If we are not currently impacted by such abandonment and rejection we also need to not become overwhelmed with it so that we are able to pour out our lives for those in despair and need. Henri Nouwen wants us to maintain our hope at all times and to do so we cannot forget that through it all God loves us. In his daily devotional “You are the Beloved” for the March 23rd reading we find the following:

    “It is central in the biblical tradition that God’s love for his people should not be forgotten. It should remain with us in the present. When everything is dark, when we are surrounded by despairing voices, when we do not see any exits, then we can find salvation in a remembered love a love that is not simply a wistful recollection of a bygone past, but a living force that sustains us in the present. Through memory, love transcends the limits of time and offers hope at any moment of our lives.”

  15. Patricia Hesse says:

    Section III –JESUS FALLS FOR THE FIRST TIME –and its emphasis on children, reminded me of the troubling photograph of the little boy sitting dazed and bloodied in the back of an ambulance after surviving an airstrike in Aleppo in Syria. This image was seen all over the world, horrifying to those who saw it. The child is covered head to toe with dust and so disoriented that he seems barely aware of the blood from the wound on his forehead. He stares directly into the lens of the camera; there is no expression on his face.

    As a veteran teacher I have seen this same expression in the faces of children living in extreme poverty and in painful, dysfunctional families. They are not bloodied or covered in dust, but their image is the same. Their faces tell us that what we feel more comfortable seeing as exceptions and rare incidents, have sadly become a way of life for them.

    Yet …these children appear to accept their suffering in a manner difficult for us to imagine. Their silence shouts troubling questions. They make us uncomfortable. We feel unworthy, ashamed.

    I read somewhere that it isn’t true to say that God wants to teach us something in our trials; through every cloud, he wants us to UNLEARN something –to simplify our belief until our relationship to Him is exactly that of a child. Silent. Accepting. Powerless and in deep need. Christ, too, was silent, accepting, powerless and in deep need –am I greater than my Master? I simply need to look into the face of a struggling child to be reminded –to look into the face of my struggling Savior… Lord, have mercy.

    • Marge says:

      Thank you, Patricia, I have been trying to remember the city, Aleppo..I remember the image of the child, I also remember the image of children playing in the streets during a couple of days of reprieve, a ceasefire. My heart ached for those children who instead of many, carefree childhood days, only experienced such for a few short hours. I’m reminded of Zechariah 8: 5 “And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets”…when there is peace, might we not grow weary under the weight of so much suffering in the world…unlearning…yes! Jesus entered our world “wholly weaponless” and returns to His Father “wholly weaponless”….not as conquering hero, but “When He had grown into maturity, He humbled Himself by joining penitent men and women and receiving baptism in the river Jordan” just really sensing my need and maybe more importantly, a deepening desire to humbly, fervently draw near to the cross of Jesus, not standing off in a distance to my own and others sufferings, not disassociating myself, but coming alongside in prayer and participation…… no longer afraid of powerlessness, weakness and vulnerability…..might God’s Will be done on earth as it is in heaven…..for the saving, and well-being of many of God’s beloved. Today I learn total dependence on my Saviour…May it be a new pattern for me that speaks into my tomorrows, more than a few hours of reprieve today.

    • Elaine M says:

      Exactly right, Patricia, and so articulate and compelling. We must look beyond stereotypes and abstractions to see the individual faces, each with his or her own story, pain, joy, human dignity. Legend has it that Jesus’ face was imprinted on Veronica’s cloth. Are the faces of the poor and suffering imprinted on our hearts and souls? And what are we doing to wipe away or relieve that pain?

  16. Debbie Vaughn says:

    Station 5: Jesus came to be dependent upon us, to ask us to help him in his mission of salvation, for us to be willing to bear our own crosses on our own journey to our own salvation with his helping us. What joy there is in the cross!

  17. Debbie Vaughn says:

    Station VI: One must focus on the eyes of Jesus and thus be envloed with the love he has for mankind; to focus on the heart of Mary as a heart of filled with hope; one should never loose hope.

  18. Debbie Vaughn says:

    III-Jesus Falls for the First Time: the children throughout the world who’ve lost their parents due to violence saddens me. All I can do is pray fervently for peace and work to that ends as best I can here. The weight of that violence brought Jesus to his knees. I wish to become a child again to escape the reality of war.

  19. Mary Fitzpay says:

    V – Simon Helps Jesus Carry His Cross
    My sister’s 30 year old daughter died in a car crash last year and my coworker lost her baby at 20 weeks gestation in January. How big their loss and what a burden they have! I pray I can help ease their pain and sorrow. Together we will eat it.

    I – Jesus is Condemned
    I could not speak about the image last week of the man behind bars. I am called to jury duty next week; and unlike many people, I am stressing out. I do not want the responsibility of deciding if you are guilty or innocent. I believe I broke out with a case of shingles on my head because of the stress! That image of the man behind bars haunts me. I need to pray about this.

    • Liz Forest says:

      Mary Fitz,
      I understand yourangst about jury service. I have been called several times but in the end not picked or released when the parties decided to agree on a settlement. Just like you, I waiting anxiously, brought a book to read, waited so more, got interviewed and then finally after three days released. In terms of serving justice, I guess I’d put myself in the victim’s place. Should not the person who committed the crime pay for his wrong choices.? I’m now excused from any jury calls for duty due to age limits. If I want to volunteer, OK. One time I got a note from my doctor about my spinal stenosis and was excused after the first day. I hope “your number” doesn’t come up but if it does, take it one day at a time. About the shingles! Please make sure to see your md for treating that. That alone could excuse you from this time of service.

  20. Elaine M says:

    Ironically Henri’s description of our “powerlessness,” “fear of being left alone with no one to give [us] a safe place,” and a feeling of insecurity and need for unconditional love beyond our “accomplishments and successes” may apply to the elderly as much it does to vulnerable children. As I watch those just a little older than I struggle mightily with their growing dependence on others (perhaps no longer able to drive themselves wherever they wish, perhaps needing help with even cooking, hygiene, and financial management), I often see great fear, humiliation, discouragement, and even depression. Some elders have the blessed mental and physical health to stay active and assume major roles in volunteer positions while others embrace this time to slow down and just be in the moment with their families and their God. However, too many unfortunate souls rail against their fate, constantly reminding others of the “great” people they once were. In general, we live in a culture with a fear of aging and a less than reverent attitude about elders. Too many elders languish in nursing homes without a single visitor or gift from distant family. Some, in their vulnerable, childlike state, are even abused by supposed caregivers. I felt blessed to be able to care for my own mother in my home in her final years, and I know that my own children will care for me as well if and when the time comes. I pray for those who will live out their years without such a blessing. They are God’s children too.

    • Marge says:

      Thank you, Elaine…seems children and older persons share a similar season of life.I have had the privilege of walking alongside friends who struggled through the devastating effects of Alzheimers, and walking alongside those who love them. My own mother, now 87 years, is dealing with more and more dependency on others, and often feels like a burden….I’m finding, to enter and participate in another persons reality at any given moment for any amount of time is most life-giving for both of us, with a high priority on their physical safety. Reminds me of Ecclesiastes 3:1 “For everything there is a season…” and v. 4 “a time to weep and a time to laugh;….especially rings true for me in relation to others in the moments I mentioned earlier…grateful for God’s Presence in every season of life, might I learn too, to be a loving presence for others, not always easy, but most lifegiving, pointing to a greater Love, yes?

    • Patrice Donnelly says:

      Thank you for this beautiful post. It reminds me also of the importance of not only doctors and nurses in nursing facilities, but also of volunteers who reach out and provide companionship. Our needs as people are not just instrumental, but include appreciation, shared memories, story, insight, fun, and all that life has to offer. We do not cease being human when we are weak in any way, such as an abandoned child or elderly needing assistance. Too often we only value those in the prime of their lives and those who are successful. It is important to see all life as valuable, valued.

  21. Phil Smith says:

    This is a late response to last week’s post:
    I resonated with the section in the introduction that talked about the importance of “walking with” and remaining close to the soil. I know from my experiences of walking (just in the town or country and on pilgrimage) just how much people are prepared to open up and share. Maybe if we walk that bit more with those who are suffering we might ease their pain, by communion, and understand our own a little better.
    The eyes of the man behind bars are not completely downcast – he looks outward to see what is coming. It is that faith that God is coming to make all things well that sustains us, even in that dark place.
    The picture of the young man carrying the great weight (across his head) made me think of the burden so many of the young people I work with place upon themselves. No, they’re not starving in my part of the world; no, they are not being routinely rounded up and tortured. However, they suffer the anxieties that a world that demands a certain way of being presses on them … “human life is passion”. It is an really interesting position that Henri Nouwen takes, in that we must more deeply embrace our own passions to connect more fully with the suffering of others … “my bond with those who suffer oppression is made real through my willingness to suffer my loneliness”. Back in the preface we are reminded that in the heart of Jesus there is no place for anxious comparisons between the degrees and depths of human suffering”. This solidarity opens the door to the “new humanity” envisaged at the end of the chapter. I need to look at my own passions and sufferings in a different way to achieve this.

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