We don’t always get what we want or expect! Generally, we get what we need.
I anticipated a typical Holy Week attending Triduum liturgies at church with an eye to our family gathering Sunday afternoon. That shifted last weekend with news of yet another death in my family which refocused attention to all this week holds.
Most people know today as Tax Day. To me April 15 was always the day on which the only Grandpa I ever knew died on his 75th birthday. I was hit by a car on that same day and was not able to join the rest of the family at his funeral (actually this 5 year-old welcomed the attention and notoriety). Later a sister-in-law who shared this birthday joined the family. Today I am en route to her wake this evening and her funeral tomorrow.
It’s quite an intense week… April 12 was the birthday of another sister-in-law who, who I knew since I was 5 years-old, who died at age 62. Tomorrow is the anniversary of my Grandma Wieseler’s death – our beloved matriarch who transformed her ride on the “orphan train” at age 7 into a maternal love for an expansive family that still displays her photo in our family rooms. April 20, Easter this year, is the 21 anniversary of my Dad’s death.
Grief is in the air as I embark on a “way of the cross” I did not request or anticipate.
My friend Susan Stable offers wise counsel on her blog today [link]. She recalls Ignatius of Loyola’s invitation in his Spiritual Exercises. During Holy Week we are to be with Christ in his suffering, to extend compassion, attend to emotions evoked by a loved one en route to his death. To the extent we are willing and able we are, as Susan quotes, to follow Jesus in “his choices, his anguish, his truth, his desires, his aloneness, his sense of the absence of God.”
So I am en route, traveling. Last evening I indulged a rare opportunity to share a meal with a nephew and his great family in Sioux Falls. As the evening waned, the three kids peeled off leaving Dean and me the space to tell stories and share memories. I will be staying with a sister in Omaha – another rare opportunity holding more stories, memories. Having gathered for Joyce’s funeral earlier in the day, I’ve made plans to attend the baseball game of a 7 year-old grand-nephew. Denny in one I don’t know well and, as a middle child, I too easily overlook.
Holy Thursday will be in my family’s hometown with a brother I have not seen since the last family funeral nearly two years ago. On Good Friday morning I will go to my parents’ grave in that town’s cemetery to say a simple prayer. Lyrics I stumbled upon last weekend echoing still, “there are things you cannot hold but the heart carries”.
I did not anticipate or ask for the events of this week. Life teaches us to trust that we are given what we need. Later, not now, I will look forward to the drive home this weekend, celebrating Easter in the familiar embrace of my church and Minnesota family.
For now I am en route – attending as best I am able to the grief, the compassion, the pain, the love, the journey, the companionship that is Holy Week.
Lyrics cited are from Amberstone by Sarah Thomsen.