companionship in suffering


This image of Mary with the crucified Jesus hangs in the Common Room of the Cathedral and is often a reminder to me that our sufferings, diseases, betrayals and pain is understood by a God who took human form as a way to connect with us.

It would be so easy for God to have stayed in the “corner office” and send memos through the prophets and mystics; but God choose to take on human form and be among us – to pitch God’s tent among us. The crucifixion scene is common in churches and has been common over the centuries in hospital sick wards precisely because we can connect to suffering when we are suffering.  The image of Jesus suffering gives us the permission to see the pain we feel and the courage to offer it to God in the hope that God will transform it into something else.

But this is not the crucifixion.  It is immediately after the crucifixion and yet not in the tomb and certainly not in the resurrection garden.  Here, in this tender moment between a mother and her dead child is an image of compassion, grief and loss which I need to be a part of the story.

My mother is dead.  But my friends now serve the role of comforter and companion in troubled times.  And it is their presence in those troubled times which tells me that they are my friends. Friendship, like labor, can be hard work.  But the rewards are worth the effort.

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