I was bent down, hands crossed, hunched over in prayer when I heard a sniffle like someone grappling with a cold. When I looked up from the pew at Sunday mass, I saw her.
A woman. Maybe my mother's age doing the exact same thing--head curled over her devout hands, eyes closed, tears streaming down her face.
And it struck me this first Sunday of the Advent season, that the holidays are not only bright and beautiful, filled with magical childhood wonder, hope and promise--but also, sorrowful and sad remembering those who are no longer here to share it with us...along with those who are dying and the recognition that this may be the last family gathering with them at the dinner table or putting an angel atop the tree.
It's also a time of reflection and for some, regret, wonder, heart break and the expectation of the first holiday away from what has been tradition in the past.
As I tried not to watch this beautiful woman asking God for whatever her heart longed for...unable to get her out of my mind...I wanted to tell her, it's okay to
cry. Just as easily as it is to smile in the next moment looking upon
all that is left, trusting that with time, it will be okay. But most people, including me, are afraid or ashamed to cry in front
of others. And likewise, when the person hurting is doing the crying,
the receiver has a hard time knowing how to make it better for them.
The lesson for me at mass this morning was that wishing someone a "Merry Christmas" is a beautiful gesture, but at the same time, I need to be mindful that not everyone is in the same place of festivity and holiday cheer.
Sometimes, we just have to be okay with a little sadness in anticipation of beauty around the corner.