" I implore you, my child; observe heaven and earth, consider all that is in them, and acknowledge that God made them out of nothing (ex nihilo), and that mankind comes into being in the same way..." 2 Maccabees 7:28

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

At The End Of All Things

Yesterday was a very difficult day- I finally decided to shave my head and be done with it. I thought I would be fine, but in the moment it was very hard and all my defenses failed me. Charity, mom and I were in the backyard and Charity was a rock, just cutting my hair through her own tears. The night before I couldn't sleep because my scalp hurt so badly; I was down to about 1/3 of my hair. Every shower was traumatic because it would just keep falling and sticking to my body and the walls- it was really horrible. What was left was not worth keeping- thin and pale and weak; every morning the first thing I would wake to was the sight of more hair on my pillow, a reminder of the reality of the situation. I had planned to make the haircut into a funny thing; we were going to cut it into a mohawk and then take pictures. But the plans all kind of fell apart.

When we were done cutting I put my scarf back on and went to the adoration chapel and just prayed without even being able to form any words in my heart; the emotions that were raging really had nothing to do at all with hair or even cancer- I found myself having to ask for the grace to forgive old wounds and disappointments from years ago. I was surprised at the things that were rising to the surface; things I thought were long healed and gone. When I got home I sent out some emails with tears still splashing all over my computer. And of course within 10 minutes people were calling and sending me their love and support.

I had two email that I wanted to share, from Kasia and Fr. Chad; very different letters but both very truthful and comforting. I hope they don't mind my posting them here.

My dear Faith,
I don't have any words of wisdom, but all I can think of is that God comes to
us through the tangible, earthy matter. He spit in the blind man's eye,
I'm sure that wasn't fun. He's somewhere in the hair.

Also, if you have a bible with gold-edged pages, don't cry all over it.
I dropped a tear on the gold edge of mine many years ago, and it smudged
the gold and left a big stain. Actually, I think it was a drop from my
running nose...

Love you,

Dear Faith,

I wanted to begin this email –an email written by a balding 33 year old priest- saying that hair is way overrated. Besides the fact that you get your hair back next year and I continue to recede. After reading your email and the tears that you shed while writing it, I second guessed this approach however. I think a more serious note is needed.

Suffering always unnerves us and makes us feel exposed. It runs our strength into the ground and humiliates our forethought resilience. Suddenly every turn hits with unexpected power. Tears more than laughs begin to prevail. Anger bursts out of us like the onslaught of a broken dam, sweeping us away in a torrent of emotions.

It’s hard to handle but not impossible –with Christ. You did the right thing, you turned to Christ as the only resort capable of restoring serenity. This is what we must do over and over again in our life. The more you do this, the closer our Lord will be to you and the more your heart will be completely his. This is a priceless gift that Jesus offers to you right now. Surrender your heart, trust in him and he will act. Psalm 37.

Rest assured of my prayers.

Yours in Christ,

Fr. Chad

Kasia's talk about tear stains on her bible reminded me of my own experience a few years ago. I was crying over something very different back then and I was alone in the chapel at St HIllary's. So I went up and rested my forehead against the tabernacle and cried; the salt from my tears dripped on the metal of the tabernacle and stained it. When I am alone in that chapel I sometimes go and check- there is still a mark where my tears fell. It's always so strangely comforting to see it there.

Love, Faith


Anonymous said...

I'm sorry.
May God be with you.
You are in my prayers.

sheshe said...

I have no comforting words, but I wanted you to just know you are in my heart..

hopeyg said...

Papes, I love you and I'm glad that your tear marks are on the tabernacle at St. Hillary's and I think that's really cool that you clung to the tabernacle and cried, I've often wanted to do that myself and never did. I just imagine someone coming in and wondering what the heck I'm doing and me trying to explain the situation... anyway I've never done it.

Love ya,
Hoper your little sis that laughs a lot in awkward moments

Br. Robert, OP said...

The tabernacle is a great thing to cling to. St. Dominic and St. Thomas would do it in their moments of fear or uncertainty. This is why Our Lord became flesh, so that we really could cling to him. And I think he clings to us, too, holds us tight to himself and loves the fact that he's able to share our suffering.

Talk to you soon. Meanwhile, prayers.