I just want to share a wee story with you from today. A story which has melted my heart once again.
It’s late on Easter night, I’ve been awake for far too long, and I’ve finally broken my lentern fast of alchol, so you know, this might not end well.
Holy week has been intense this year for a number of reasons, and the path of passion was very real this time round. I’ve been walking with some folk whose way has been painful, including one elderly couple (who are happy for me to tell this story) who lost their son six months ago. Their son’s widow is naturally in great grief, but one of the expressions of that is that they have not been allowed to see their grandchildren since the funeral. The pain of that separation has been sharp and terrible, and I’ve prayed for them with tears as well as with hope.
On Maundy Thursday I knew they would be there, and it was hard to try and say anything of hope and good news when you know some people feel little but despair. I don’t believe in despair, I believe Christianity means there is no such thing, but for them the valley was dark indeed. How can you preach to people about the loss of Jesus when they have lost their own son? I don’t rightly know what I said to them, or if it helped, but if compassion means anything I know I shared their pain.
Even now I can’t really bear to think too hard about what it might feel to lose my own son, I know the idea is so terrible, so heart breaking that I cannot dare to imagine it. I know that their pain is darker than anything I have ever had to experience. I know that they are the kindest, most gentle, most decent of folk, the apotheosis of the sort of people you want to protect from harm and hurt, and I wanted to howl in outrage at what they are having to go through. To lose their son is one thing. To lose the hope of ever seeing their grandchildren again is devastating.
As time wore on, and there was nothing but silence, they began to feel that perhaps this was how it would always be. They are not young. They may not have long. All they have is a yearning love for their grandchildren, expressed in anxiety, pain and an inability to stop hoping.
After Easter Sunday Eucharist we always have a meal in our house for the congregation, and they always come along. Only this Sunday they couldn’t make it. Because on Holy Saturday, they got a card. Written in scrawly handwiting from their grandchildren. It was an invitation. To Easter lunch.
So we didn’t get to see them this Easter lunchtime. They were too busy being resurrected.