“My daughter has…”
Church is a place for quietness, reflection, thought and prayer. It also provides a wonderful opportunity for context, taking consideration of things much larger than worldly ones as perspective for one’s life and how it is lived. Context comes in other ways, too.
We usually sit close to her in church, not for any particular reason other than that we like the same area of church from which to observe and participate. There are times to say hello in special ways: one is at the beginning of Mass when everyone is invited to greet others around them, and the second is before Communion when the sign of peace is shared with others. Both opportunities tend to provoke hugs and kisses for family members, and handshakes and well wishes for others. Yesterday, the first opportunity provided context, too.
During the “good morning” phase, the woman who regularly sits close to us responded to “Good morning, how are you?” with “My daughter was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.” It was a simple statement: clear and profound, but not dramatic. The priest started with the opening prayer almost immediately after she finished the sentence. No time, nor need, to dwell on her words. It was hard to tell whether she was numb, shell shocked or stoical. Mass continued.
At the second opportunity for greeting about midway through Mass, a hug was shared.
Vulnerability is a powerful thing: it builds connections and understanding. The contexts gained in sharing are powerful, indeed. They remind us of perspectives, what is important and that, for everyone, mortal life has a beginning and an end. In between, we should be able to count on each other.
Listen. Hug. Life is short and not easy for anyone.