This past December, I had the privilege to attend the National Conference of Catholic Youth Ministry in San Jose. I also had the honor to entertain 2000 hardworking ministry professionals with a reflection and a song during the Friday Night Extravaganza. The reflection I chose came to me the day of the event.
Almost exactly 3 years ago, my daughter, Ava, was jumping on the trampoline one day with her brothers and dad. I was inside reading on the couch when she threw open the screen door, her face white as a sheet, and her arm looking very, very wrong. My little girl had sustained a compound fracture. Though she was hospitalized overnight, her subsequent visits to the doctors revealed that she would indeed need reparative surgery and quickly.
Although her surgery went quite well, the excruciating pain she woke up with was extremely hard to watch. My very vivid memory of her, sobbing and writhing in pain, was the snuggle her and whisper to her, “It won’t last forever. It won’t last forever.”
The song I chose for my reflection was called “Let it Fall” by Over the Rhine (see lyrics below). It illustrated exactly the point of today’s readings. We need to give ourselves permission to feel the burdens of the world, because we are not made for this world. When we are in pain, when we are suffering, when we are unsure of God’s presence or His providence, He comes to us with these readings of hope.
“His dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.”
“Brothers and sisters: You are not in the flesh; on the contrary, you are in the spirit, if only the Spirit of God dwells in you.”
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.”
He knows our hearts because He has made them for His own. He sees how hard we try to control our flesh, so He has to remind us that it is He that can take the burden. We cannot do it on our own.
As my daughter lay there in pain and suffering, it was hard for her to see beyond that moment. She needed to be reminded that she was not alone in her suffering. And we all need to be reminded that the end of suffering can sometimes be the acceptance of it and for that burden to be passed along to a loving Father who has our back. We are mortal beings – made extraordinary by our calling – and we were made for an eternal plan. St Teresa of Avila once said, “In light of heaven, the worst suffering on earth will be seen to be no more serious than one night in an inconvenient hotel.” Let us see our burdens and the handing over of those burdens – as an opportunity to trust in an eternity with Him. Our time on this side of heaven, won’t last forever..but heaven will.
Let it Fall – Over the Rhine:
Have you been trying too hard
Have you been holding too tight
Have you been worrying too much lately
Whatever we’ve lost
I think we’re gonna let it go
Let it fall
‘Cause rain and leaves And snow and tears and stars
And that’s not all my friend They all fall with confidence and grace
So let it fall, let it fall