participation goes both ways

Feast Day of Divine Mercy, Stephen B. Whatley.

Feast Day of Divine Mercy, Stephen B. Whatley. Pastel on paper.

Pain after pain. For a week, the pain burned along my trigeminal nerve, burrowing behind my eye and nostril, alternating from the right side to the left. I’d swallow an Imitrex, waiting for hours– “God! God! Help me!”– until the pain reset. And then it would start building on the other side of my face. By the end of that week, anything would leave me in tears. Exhausted.

Could this be the rest of my life?

One night, alone, I drew a bath for my feet. Multiple pairs of socks, slippers, blankets, and they were still cold. I sat at the edge of the tub and rest my head on my knees and began to pray. Well, I don’t pray. I don’t pray. And I’d been avoiding God all week. Wasn’t God to blame?

But I turned my face to God and I said, simply, “God, I don’t want to be angry.”

Immediately, Ι was overwhelmed with comfort. And then I knew: Christ suffers with me. He holds me close enough to feel each throb in himself. I was overwhelmed. I stripped, lit some candles, turned off the lights, and lay in the bath, in silence, in the dark, beholding Christ’s love.


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