The last of the family members were leaving. After hours of excruciating waiting, they had learned that their daughters were indeed those who had died in an instant of terror. I shared a final prayer with one family I'd been with through the waiting, identifying and weeping. Then I found myself standing outside the emergency room doors, but not alone.
An older gentleman stood with me. Side by side we looked out at the dark, cold, early morning. Something — ah, that Spirit — moved us closer to each other. Leaning over, he read my name, scrawled on a piece of cloth medical tape. I had plastered it on my shirt hours — eons — earlier.
"Pastor Diane," he said. "Hmmm. I'm a pastor. I'm a retired chaplain. My whole life I've been on the other side, walking people through this stuff. One part of me knows the truth in all I've told others at such times. The other part of me knows the pain of being a grandfather whose baby is gone." We stood, weeping quietly. Our swollen eyes seemed to still seek answers in the darkness beyond.
He broke the silence again, saying: "Once a pastor told me how he had someone stand by him during a tragic moment. ... When my friend got up and walked to the window, the other went with him. They never exchanged a word, but they were just there, together."
We, too, continued standing in that quiet, cold moment. Then the emergency room doors behind us folded open. His family walked through the doors, leaving without the daughter and granddaughter they had so desperately hoped to take home. As they moved toward cars, my colleague and I stood together, perfectly aware of one another's tears and filled with such sorrow. Neither of us could — or wanted to — move.
As I stood by my colleague in ministry — a sad and anguished grandfather — I remembered the words I've shared with so many throughout my years in ministry: "The tears we shed in life are baptismal reminders. In the holy waters of baptism we are washed, renewed, refreshed, forgiven — healed. Our tears are mingled with tears shed with us by our loving Creator."
So many of us have stood at the foot of the cross, quietly screaming from the depths of our souls for healing and mercy, quietly washed by holy tears. We have stood together — despite the distance that divides us. We have stood together, reminded of the hope that is ours in the cross. We have stood, searching the darkness. With the rising of the sun on this new day, we find ourselves bathed in the light and hope of our Savior. We remember God's healing and mercy and grace that comes through our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Yes, we know what it means to walk in the shadow of the cross and to walk that long, long road to Golgotha. But there's also a strong sense that we are waiting for Easter. We're not quite sure we know what Easter looks like anymore, but we know it's coming. And out of Easter, we know there is hope.
This week's front page features:
Passion pilgrimage: Journey along the way of the cross. (Illustration at right.)
Was Jesus subversive? Considering the 'other' reason Jesus died on the cross.
Easter thoughts: Youth share their understanding of resurrection.
New country, new child: Pediatrician helps meet needs of international adoptions.
Also: Green living.
Also: Called to life again.
This week on our blog:
Kathleen Kastilahn blogs about e-gratitude.
Julie Sevig (right) blogs about celebrating March 17 with all things green — and remembering that St. Patrick was a man of faith.
The March issue of The Little Lutheran has arrived:
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