Monday, November 26, 2012

How do you walk alongside someone in pain?

How do you walk alongside someone in pain?

For the last seven years I have been the caregiver to someone in great pain. Her pain is physical, spiritual and emotional. For all the articulations she has made of her pain and the answers to the inevitable why? why me? she still carries the sequels of her brain hemorrhage as an open wound. By her side, sometimes against all my emotions, I have witnessed her pain and felt my own as I m sure all caregivers do. The most basic lesson I have learned is that I cannot start feeling compassion and then be able to be a companion if I don't acknowledge my own pain and embrace it as part of this new life.
I began looking or examples of this type of "companion" pain, or compassion (suffering with)when I found a copy of Gibson's movie The Passsion. These are my raw notes after seeing the movie once more.

The Passion of the Christ –movie by Mel Gibson,
The Canadian Movie Classification posting at the beginning of the movie reads: brutal violence and classifies it as R (restricted). I wonder how Ruandans or Salvadorians would classify it since they are familiar with the brutality of recent genocide and war. We Canadians have a sanitized version of life.

The movie starts with a dark scene in a garden where Yeshua Nazarit is in a deep struggle in his soul as he faces the pain and execution prescribed to rescue men’s souls. This is a man choked by raw fear of the known. He knows exactly what he is walking into. No surprise, just fear and finally submission. The beatings start almost immediately. Any image of current police brutality comes short of what is portrayed in horrific detail. I wonder why I feel shocked by this sadistic brutality, is it because Yeshua was innocent of the charges? Is it that this type of brutality and level of violence is uncommon to me? Would my reaction be different if I lived in Gaza today? The colonizer is always brutal with the defeated, in this case, however, the violence comes also from neighbors and friendlies, and maybe this makes it more horrific because it chips away at the false sense of security coming from the belief that my neighbours will protect me.

Nonetheless, I find myself most deeply moved by every scene in which Mary silently accompanies her son in his trial, torture and crucifixion. She is portrayed as a stoic woman, at the same time, she is given an aura if wisdom. She does not succumb to her emotions. She feels and suffers deeply, but keeps her heart in check by remembering everything she had heard about her son even before he was conceived. She knew this end was coming. The old man Simon had told her. No surprises there, but a mother will never be ready to see her child hurt. Witnessing this pain seems to cut deep, as deep as the whip cut into Yeshua’s flesh. Stoically she follows the procession don Via Dolorosa as a silent witness, just a stone throw away. Their eyes make contact during the ordeal. He knew why this was necessary, he had come for this; she also knew the prophesies. He takes the blows and feels the pain. She feels the pain of her son as if it was her own. She cries openly with every blow. The other women also cry openly by such violence. Why so much sadism against a peaceful rabbi? When he can, he looks at her to give her comfort by reminding her that this was written and He has to go through it. She looks back at him with all her love of a mother. She would like to soothe his pain, run and embrace him just like she did so many times when Yeshua was a child. Both are witnesses of each other’s pain, and both are willing to pay the price, because of what they have heard from Adonai. Yeshua had suffered his agony in Ghetsemani where he had come to fully accept his Father’s will, Mary suffered hers over the passion.

Watching Mary suffer and witness his son’s death brings in my heart a new dimension to the concept of motherhood. I wonder how much pain my own mother witnessed in her life. Pain from her children, pain from her parents, pain from her siblings. At the end she was a woman full of love and sadness. Sadness for the losses she experienced and love for what she had learned about God.

The passion of the Christ is the passion of Mary. They are different and they are the same. Both knew the purpose and both ran the race together to the end. In this sense, Mary was the first disciple and the one who spent the most time with Yeshua. What she didn’t tell us through a book, she told us by her courage and faithful presence all the way to the cross.

How can I continue to walk alongside my wife? With compassion and a solid understanding that pain is only a part of the journey. With caring friends that also walk along with me and remind me that there was a resurrection.

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