Rebecca Frech of “Shoved to them” fame will be guest blogging around here once a week over the next month. We’re glad to have her. She’s a heckuva writer. This piece is really wonderful.
Through a Mother’s Eyes
When I was a girl and even a young woman, I loved the Stations of the Cross during Lent. The prayers, the procession, the drama of the story, even the familiar smell of incense in the church would swirl me into the familiar litany. I could easily imagine myself a spectator for the great drama of Christ’s last hours.
When I became a mother, my perspective began to change. I began to see the story through the heart of Mary instead. I was a mother myself and could well imagine all of her choked back sobs and smothering fear as she was forced to the sidelines, unable to protect her beloved son.
When my eldest son was still a tiny baby, I found that I could no longer make it through the Stations without tears streaming down my face. I ached for the agony of His mother. She knew the innocence of her sweet boy, and yet had to trust His Father completely.
How her emotions must have warred inside herself as she saw his public humiliation at Pilate’s hands and heard her own people calling for the gruesome death of her child. These were her neighbors, her friends. These were the very people for whom her son was born. He was their Promised One, and they were screaming for his blood.
She saw him take the Cross into his battered arms. She knew from his face how great his pain and fatigue already were. Being no stranger to the reality of crucifixions, she knew what still lay ahead for him; she knew how far he still had to go. She was his mother, unable to touch or comfort her aching child. She witnessed his steady progress down the Way of Sorrows, watched her baby walking slowly, surely to his death.
I have listened to the priests recount his progress toward his triumphant end, and felt myself choking from her grief. To be a mother is to live with the fear that some horror will find our children. What a waking nightmare it must have been for her when it did.
When at last she got close to him and saw him face to face, what comfort did she offer him? What words did she say? Did she promise not to leave him? To give him that somehow magic presence mothers have? The way our children can be strengthened and find courage just because we are there? She saw her dying child, but she could not take him home. She could not wash away the dirt, bind his wounds, or kiss his aches away. Her baby was a man and she had to stand aside and love him to his death.
It is in the 5th and 6th stations where I can hear her pleas for him. Crying out to his Father, “He is your son and he’s so tired…..please…..help him!” His Father heard her cries and sent Simon to help him bear the weight of his Cross.
Seeing his burdens lightened and his final steps eased, she wants only to see her beloved son. “He is my only son, let me see his face once more.” and from the crowd, God sent Veronica to take her veil and wipe it clean.
Ever since I can remember, I have known this story with its villains and their plotting, the betrayal of friends, the reality of the Son of God crucified. It was only as an adult, a parent myself, that I discovered the other story of the Passion. How did I miss that in his moment of triumph, her baby died?
March 28, 2012 at 12:10 pm
That was beautiful. Being a dad, your perspective is one I hadn't ever considered or imagined, but you can bet I won't be looking at those particular stations in quite the same way in the future.
March 28, 2012 at 2:33 pm
Great reflection. I can relate to that. Miscarrying our first child caused me to see the seven sorrows of Mary in a whole new way. It brought me comfort to meditate on them and also helped me to sympathize with Our Blessed Mother. I understood what she went through at least a little better. Thank God for the trials that help us on our way!
March 28, 2012 at 2:36 pm
As a mother separated from her teenage son for nearly a year through tragic circumstances, indeed the horror of what has befallen him, the separation from him and yes, the longing just to see his face more than for a couple hours a week have linked me to the cross in ways that before were unknown to me. Also, the fact that my son is my only child inspires me even more to relate to Mary's portion of the cross…as you so eloquently put it. The main thing I come away with in all this is persevering in trust and in hope and trying to 'go with' the will of the Father wherever it leads. Thank you, Rebecca.
March 28, 2012 at 6:39 pm
Oh, Rebecca, this is haunting. My toddler is looking at me funny as I cry reading this. Most years while attending Stations of the Cross on Friday mornings, I'm too busy shushing my small children to really contemplate what is going on. Forever from this point forward, I will have a new appreciation. Thank you and God bless you!
March 28, 2012 at 7:19 pm
I, too, have often thought of Mary and how she must have felt watching this unfold. Your words put me right there beside her. Very well written.
Now off to get the Kleenex!
March 28, 2012 at 9:19 pm
This is powerful. And, yes, I'm with you. I never saw it this way until I was a mother.
March 28, 2012 at 9:49 pm
Absolutely beautiful! Well done, Rebeccca!
March 28, 2012 at 10:02 pm
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March 29, 2012 at 12:50 pm
Love this! Best post ever!
April 12, 2012 at 6:07 am
I agree. It is as a mother that I have come to understand the Stations more deeply.
Also, I watched The Passion of the Christ years ago and what I *still* remember from it is the interaction between Mary and Jesus that was depicted. I watched bits of it again this Lent (I have to fast-forward through the violent stuff) and the scene where Jesus falls and Mary remembers him falling as a child, running to him just as she did then….it is really tremendous. Jesus says to her, "See, Mother, I make all things new!" just like a child proudly showing off his own little handiwork. I cry every time.