But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
        Luke 2:19


        It was an icy December night in 1976, when I sat in a hospital chapel and begged God to spare my son's life.
        The car accident that had killed Paul's girlfriend had left him in a coma, and his chances for survival were slim.
        Never had I felt so alone. It seemed to me that no mother had ever suffered a pain like this.

                Then, as my eyes adjusted to the dim light, I noticed on the wall a photograph of Michelangelo's Pieta,
        a sculpture showing the limp, lifeless body of the crucified Christ, cradled in His mother's arms.
        Oh! The pain of it was almost more than I could bear.
        But as I stood there contemplating Mary's sorrow, I was suddenly no longer alone.
        The thought of her suffering somehow made my own more bearable, and I began to see her in a new way.

                Here was a woman whose tears were as real as mine, who had, as I had, experienced doubts and fears and struggles.
        Could it be that, hidden within the silence that surrounded her, were some answers to the dilemmas of my own life?

                Even after Paul's crisis had passed, and I knew that he would live, I continued to think about Mary and what she had endured.
        From the time of Jesus' birth, we are told that Mary pondered things in her heart.
        That makes me feel close to her because I do that, too.
          So, for the length of Holy Week, I'm going to reflect on what Mary's ponderings might have been during her Son's final days.

                No mother has ever faced a test like the one that Mary endured during that week that began with a triumphal march and ended with an empty tomb,
        I wonder...how did she feel when she saw her Son go out into a life full of risk and danger, toward a tragedy she could not prevent?
        Did she ever yearn to hold Him back from the destiny that would snatch Him away from her?
        What can Easter mean for us when our own circumstances are beyond our control and we don't know the outcome?
        And how does Mary's suffering and endurance and ultimate joy relate to you and me?

               What can I learn from this most holy of mothers? For the rest of this Holy Week, I'm going to imagine that Mary and I are together in my quiet kitchen, sharing our inmost thoughts.
        You're  invited, too. You don't have to be a mother to join us. You only need to love her Son.

                I will pause frequently during this week, Lord, to ponder the meaning of Your life and Your sacrifice, and to see, through the eyes of Mary, what it means to love You.

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