Saturday, April 7, 2007

Holy Saturday Pilgrimage to Arlington Cemetery

It was a clear, cold Saturday morning and we went together to the graves--the elderly mother and the sinful younger woman. It was 2007, but it might have been 33 A.D. We carried plastic flowers to put in the gravestones, but we might have carried precious oils. It was a journey of love for both of us--her, for departed loved ones; me, for her. She is not the Blessed Mother, but she is a dear mother and as much like a mother to me, as my own dear mother. I am blessed in knowing and loving her. I am not the Magdalene either; I expect I have managed to avoid both extremes--her worst and her best--yet I do identify with her.

Holy Saturday, the quiet day, usually overlooked between the terror of Good Friday and the glory of Easter Sunday. The flowers fit perfectly into their holders. We stand closely together, taking warmth from each other.

She won't accept my gloves though I offer to give them to her or share them with her. The way you share gloves is each person wears one and you hold the un-gloved hands. She laughs. It's good to hear her laugh.

She talks about her son's pain at the end and how she begged God to take him to spare him further suffering. Did Mary pray like that for Jesus? I think she probably did. I think most mothers would.

She tells me that her husband "went suddenly" though she had been expecting it for some time. Is that how St. Joseph died? Did Mary miss him terribly? Oh it must have been awful for her to have to lose Joseph and then Jesus too. Even after Jesus rose again from the dead, He still ascended; He was still gone.

Mary was still left alone. She had a new son, John. I'm sure he was a good son to his mother. But he wasn't Jesus. She must have missed Jesus.

"They are in a better place," she finishes bringing me abruptly back to the present. There's no arguing with that, but I know that I'm in the best place--with her, there, among the dead, on Holy Saturday, contemplating past, present and future.

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