Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Holy Images

I woke to the sound of my own screams, grateful that the shouting was from a dream and not reality. Trying to shake the images of the nightmare from my mind, I rubbed my bleary eyes and then took a good look at myself in the bathroom mirror.  I noted that my girth and my age are all too evident lately and  I couldn't help but grumble about being scared awake only to confront my constant battle against my pride and vanity.  My day didn't seem to be starting on a very good note.  On my way to Mass I reminded myself that God loves me as I am and told myself to continue to work on being nice on the inside so that it might combat my distaste for my outward appearance.

After Mass, as I knelt before the crucifix, I realized that right before me I was seeing the ultimate in horror and humility-Jesus tortured, not in a dream but in reality, and humiliated, not because He was uncomfortable with how he looked, but because His pride was physically stripped away from Him.  I was not alone. Surely, I could unite the minor irritations that began my day to His suffering and bring some good from it.

I arrived at work and the first client I met was wearing large sunglasses even though it was not bright and sunny inside the WIC Clinic.  As we began to discuss the eating habits of her four-year-old son while her well-behaved children sat quietly waiting, I heard her sniffling and when I looked closely, I noticed tears running down her face behind those sunglasses.  I handed her a box of kleenex and she apologized for crying as she removed her sunglasses to reveal tear-soaked and tired eyes.  I'm not the only one wanting to hide the parts of me that are less than flattering.

Then she told me that her mother had suddenly died of a heart attack last week while babysitting for her children.  Her mom had kept the children overnight and nobody had discovered her death until the next day.   Her children had been alone in the house with their dead grandmother and were now unable to sleep at night from the trauma of that experience.  She went on to say that the funeral would be the next day and she was overwhelmed from all that she had to do.  She pointed to the picture on my desk of Our Lady of Guadalupe and said that it was seeing Mary on my desk that brought out her tears.  The image of a tender and loving mother allowed this woman to release her pent-up grief, if only for a moment, and brought about some much needed compassion and prayers from this listener.

Those holy images of our Lord and His Mother do so much good in this world.  Every time we glance upon their loving countenance we can't help but be changed for the better.  How blessed we are to have the continual love of Jesus and Mary to surround our hearts as we make our way through our days filled with both minor aggravations and major sorrows.  Their images are a balm that remind us that not only that we are greatly loved by them, but also that we are called to love others as they love us.  Jesus and Mary are always with us!  Let's do all we can to share them with others in all we say and do!

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