Sunday, September 11, 2011

Stabat Mater Dolorosa

On the way over to perform Lynanne and Shawn’s wedding, I stopped off to see a family I had not seen in some time. They were a family that started coming pretty soon after I got to Winchester but came only occasionally because their youngest son, Lee, was very sick. He has a disease where his body does not produce a critical enzyme, and so occasionally all his muscles basically cramp up. Sooner or later, the heart, which is a muscle, will be affected. So I met Lee when he was about 10 or 11. He was the most cheerful kid. He used to have titanic wrestling matches with his figures and some cool rings. When he heard I had not seen “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” he let me borrow his copy. We have some great memories stored up. I left Winchester for two years then came back to Lexington, got a call from some old friends who tole me Lee was in the hospital at UK. I went in and saw his mom. Lee’s disease was in full force and he was unconscious. Doctors thought they should pull the plug; there did not seem to be any brain activity. But his mom is a bulldog for him and she contacted a specialist they saw at Johns-Hopkins who said it looked like he was dying, but really he was in a deep, deep sleep and would wake up. And he did! I had not seen him since. I heard from some friends at the wedding rehearsal that he was bed-ridden. I stopped by and it was so nice to see his parents. Lee is in a hospital bed at home, occasionally on a ventilator. The affecting thing was that in my mind, he is a young boy. But there he was, a man’s face, hair on his chest. I could only think of Mary, receiving the promise of the Christ-child, knowing him as the infant and child and boy with child-like skin and voice... and then to see his broken and battered body. We wonder at the Cross, its brutality, asking how on earth is that the means of redemption. But in that question, we miss not only the deep reasons why it is redemption (about which more later, perhaps...) but we also miss that it is God’s solidarity with us in our suffering. The world will destroy this “robe of flesh” we wear. The Cross, however, is God’s tender, “I know, I know...” to us in the agony not only of sin, but of suffering and death

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