My brother with four of his grandchildren a few weeks ago.

My brother with four of his grandchildren.

I’m back after a break in blogging the last few months while I was writing Hidden Falls at breakneck speed. While all along I intended to return around this time, I’m finding it a tender time to jump back in.

Holy Week began yesterday. Most years it is a spiritually rich time. Last year my brother had just died, my mother was in the hospital, and on top of losing her son, she faced a major move out of her own home in Florida to an assisted living community in Illinois near family.

So this year, all during the Lenten weeks approaching Easter, I have emotionally connected to the traumatic events of last year.

In many ways, the wound is still raw, but the experience of my suffering, and the suffering of people I love, has connected me in a deeper way to the suffering of Jesus that we remember during Holy Week.

Whatever suffering you face right now, in whatever dimension of your life, let me offer three reflections that I see more clearly now.

1. Jesus knows my suffering. Jesus suffered grievously in his body. God watched his own Son suffer. My suffering does not put me on the back side of God or spin me off, abandoned, on the dark side of the moon. God does not turn his face away. He opens his arms and tells me he knows my suffering.

2. Suffering joins people to one another. Suffering is common to our human existence. While I don’t wish trauma and loss on anyone, I know that it will come. None of us should have to face it alone. When we acknowledge that suffering will happen, we can reach out and embrace one another in the experience of it.

3. Suffering ushers us into hope. Jesus suffered and died. When his followers are baptized, we enter into his suffering and rise to the hope of the resurrection. We know that Jesus did not suffer in vain, and neither do we. When dawn lights the sky on Easter morning, the tomb will be empty and Jesus will see our tears and speak our names

May God’s presence fall on your wounds, and may you receive the balm of his love.