Friday, August 15, 2008

The comfort of Mary

Not having grown up Catholic, I'm not as attuned to Mary as I might be. But I remember a dear friend telling me that when her 16-year-old son committed suicide while vacationing with their family in Italy, she drew enormous comfort from all the Mary images that surrounded her as they struggled through their last few days in that country.

Tonight I am thinking of a line from the Prayers of the People that we say every Sunday at Grace: we pray "for all those who worry, and wait, and long for peace." And I think of Karen, Gregg and David, reliving this last week of Katie's life together a year after their loss. I think of Colleen, who was able to come out for a visit today for the first time this summer, and who faces another round of chemo next week.

I listen to my cat, crying unhappily because our other cat, Sophie, had an asthma attack this evening, and my husband had to take her to the emergency room. I watch my dog, waiting by the door for Chris and Sophie to return from the vet, and for my daughter to return from her day in Seattle. And I think of all those who wait; of all those who watch their loved ones' pain; of all those who long for the peace of relief, of closure; of all those whose prayers are still lifted up in hope.

And, looking through all the madonna images I collected on my own trips to Italy, I am drawn to this one, to Mary, Queen of Peace; the Mary who, knowing what she now knows, having lost the child she held so dear, comforts and shelters, who pulls the soothing cloak of darkness over all who lift their hearts in prayer and longing, that they may find rest.

As day fades into deepest night, and the vigil of memory begins, I realize it is the words of my favorite service that are playing in my head, that beautiful prayer from the Compline service in the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer:

"Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous, and all for your love's sake. Amen."

1 comment:

Unknown said...

What a lovely prayer. Thank you for sharing it. God bless you.