By Deacon Derick Cranston
Throughout our life, we weave a tapestry made of the fabric of our prayers, our works, our joys and our sufferings. Every strand of this fabric consists of the moments that make up our life and define who we are. The shades and hues of the tapestry we weave reveal our inner essence. If you look hard enough, you will find that our inner essence is love. And love is what makes life worth living. What a dark place this would be if we did not have love.
Love also means that there is suffering. You cannot have love without suffering and pain, for how else would you know the power and beauty of love? The more you suffer the more intense and beautiful the love will be.
Be not afraid, for in the end love will always overcome the sorrow and grief of pain and suffering. We have no better example of this than our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ hanging on the cross. You must first carry your cross, whatever it may be, up the hill of Calvary and endure crucifixion before you enjoy the eternal bliss of the resurrection.
This is the Good News of the Bible — our suffering is not in vain. Suffering is temporary, but the love we experience is eternal and it is the light in the darkness that gives hope. As we read in the Gospel of John, Christ came into the world and in him was life, and that life was the light of the world. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness will not overcome it. Christ is the sure and certain hope that suffering will be overcome. Christ transforms our pain and sorrow and makes suffering beautiful.
One of the most beautiful things I have seen occurred after my Dad made one of the most painful decisions in his life that no spouse should ever have to make: the decision to let his wife’s life expire after we had determined that it was only the artificial oxygen keeping her alive.
We all gathered around Mom and held her hand, touched her and told her we loved her. Then Dad, with the approval of the hospice nurse, gently and reverently removed the oxygen tubes keeping her alive and she softly and peacefully left this world and passed into the next.
That is love. It is the love the prophet Isaiah describes when he writes that we shall climb that mountain and every broken heart will be mended and every tear will be wiped away.
(Deacon Cranston is pastoral associate for St. Mary Parish in Riverside, Holy Trinity Parish in Richmond and St. Joseph Parish in Wellman. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)