April 2, 2010- Great and Holy Friday
25 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” 27 Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.
One can see the Most Blessed and Holy ever-virgin Mary, the Theotokos, and the Holy Apostle John on the icon of Christ on the Cross above. As St. Simeon said to her, “ a sword will pierce your heart also.” From the Cross, Christ provided for His mother. And He would soon provide consolations beyond anything those who were there could have imagined.
And not to be forgotten is the Most Blessed Virgin Mary’s willingness to bear Jesus. As our hymns say, her womb is more spacious than the heavens, for it contained the uncontainable God. And after giving him birth, she nurtured the pre-eternal Son of God to adulthood. Imagine it- such intimate reciprocation with God the Son, fully God, fully human. This is THE Mother and Son.
Another mother and son have a bond and experiences that pertain to the
focus of this weblog- Kathleen Deyer Bolduc and her son Joel.
In my thesis, on page 30, I wrote of the challenges she has faced earlier in her life with her son Joel, who is autistic, which she shared in her book His Name is Joel: Searching for God in a Son’s Disability, (Louisville, KY: Bridge Resources, 1999) She spoke of the death of her dreams.
Ms. Bolduc is a Protestant Christian. She also wrote A Place Called Acceptance: Ministry with Families of Children with Disabilities, (Bridge Resources, 2001.) There is much there that can be adapted to life centered in an Orthodox Christian parish.
In the book, she shares her continuing life with Joel and all her family in poems and short, true stories. Her other sons are at the age that they do not accompany the family on a vacation to Florida. We learn this in the chapter Resurrection, in which she shares a most encouraging perspective on disability from a Lakota Sioux Indian man.
In the Poem Waiting Rooms, she ponders, while reading magazines (apparently, with garden paintings by the French Impressionist Manet),
Can I carve a garden
From the weedy turf of life . . . .
weed out thistles
of resentment and fear
replace them with flowers
of joy and contentment?
That sounds like those longings we cultivate during our 40 days of Lent, our tithe of the year, which we hope to sustain into Pascha throughout the year, doesn’t it?
(Pascha is the Orthodox name for Easter, non-Orthodox Christian readers.)
Her story Easter’s Promise speaks of longings for transformation into God’s likeness. This, too, is precisely our goal as Orthodox Christians.
The first chapter, For Me, speaks of communion wine as “grape juice.” This will, for Orthodox Christians, grant us the space, the distance, to relate to Ms. Bolduc as one who is not an Eastern Orthodox Christian, (since we believe that the bread and wine of communion is truly Christ’s Body and Blood) but nevertheless a person who confesses Christ, from “outside the Camp.” But the story continues with Joel’s highly enthusiastic reaction to the words concerning Christ’s Body and Blood, broken, and poured out, for us:
“For me! For me! he cries joyfully. He turns around to the people behind us. “For me! he repeats. “For me”
Ordinary time stops. . . .
Here is her website: http://www.kathleenbolduc.com/
On the site there is a signup sheet for an April 8, 2010 WEBINAR: A Place Called Acceptance, which will, online, address topics such as:
• The gifts children and adults with disabilities bring to our church communities
• The transformation that can take place when we open our hearts, minds and doors to those who live with disability
• The steps we can take to become more welcoming to people with disabilities and their families
As we come together to celebrate the Triduum, we reflect. Having been buried with Christ in baptism, as we continue in Him, day by day carrying the cross He gives to each of us, (His yoke is easy, and His burden is Light) we will receive what has been promised- resurrection and eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord- likeness to God, Divine life in Him. We can only do this together, as Christ’s Body; we were not called to be simply Christian individuals.
As St. Paul writes, “Is Christ divided?” The answer is no. We recite together when we gather for Divine Liturgy, the work of the people, “I believe in One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.” And we mean the Orthodox Church. But let us believe all things and hope all things for those who confess Christ outside the Orthodox Church. Let us relate to them lovingly, read their books as they relate to our callings, listen to their experiences, and the yearnings of their hearts. And we may be pleasantly surprised to find that the Holy Spirit has been working in their lives instructively- for them and for us.