When the news of the recent earthquake in Turkey broke, I had this overwhelming feeling of paralysis. Not in my body, nor my emotions per se, not even intellectually, this somehow felt different. Maybe for the first time, or at least in a different way, I was able to identify a weariness of spirit.
There seemed little to draw on even in the most uncomplicated and simple space of prayer and reflection. It was just too much. Not a "woe is me" but rather a "woe is the world." How long Lord, how long must we sing this song?
I thought about Jesus and that moment in Gethsemane when it all seemed too much. And he wept and sweat blood. He sweat blood!! Just think about the level of stress he was experiencing. To take this cup of suffering from him even though the cross was clearly in His sights. It was too much. His very spirit was overwhelmed. An interesting twist here was that these last steps, perhaps the most arduous of them all, were not about a personal pilgrimage or quest. He was doing this for others Literally for the whole world. And it was simply too much.
Jesus had asked his disciples, his friends, to "stay awake with me." But they didn't. They had fallen asleep. When I reflect on this today, even as I type these words, I'm impacted and challenged by the importance of someone simply being with us when we hit those painful and perhaps, inevitable moments of "I don't think I can do this anymore." Couldn't you just have just "stayed with me?" Jesus asks.
The shocking lesson of the disciples can be turned to excellent use in our own prayer and understanding of how to wait "with others" and to keep alert and watch. "At any given moment, someone near us may be facing darkness and horror: illness, death, bereavement, catastrophe, loss. They ask us, perhaps silently, to stay with them, to watch and pray alongside them."
When I heard the news about the earthquake I was alone and far from home. I'm certain this exacerbated my feelings. When I walked out of the airport just yesterday and saw my Anita, I could instantly sense relief. Proximity matters!!
I guess all I'm trying to say today is that we carry an awareness within ourselves and with each other of this need to be "with". Especially in these times where not just our bodies, minds and souls are affected. but the depletion of our very spirit. This may simply require the solidarity of silence. In fact many times that is what is needed. The urge to prophesy, philosophize and pontificate still, especially when it is the very spirit which is overwhelmed.
Let's be awake for each other. Let's be attentive. Let's be with.
Step by step.
1 Wright, T. (2004). Matthew for Everyone, Part 2: Chapters 16-28 (p. 161). Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.