(If you are not a Christian, I hope you can at least take this story as illustrating a point.)
The whole (Christian) world is on a countdown. Today, Thursday, we are remembering events that will culminate tomorrow, “Good Friday” (never understood the good bit!) which is a mother’s worst nightmare. The very worst day of Mary’s life, the sum of all her fears, is about to unravel.
Lots of events these days in the churches around here, and I’m sure worldwide. The countdown is very public, and depending on the type of church you attend, there will be a fair bit of acknowledgement of Mary’s particular pain.
I wonder what it was like for her in the years after the death of her son, Jesus. Even though the Bible teaches he rose from the death it also says that barely six weeks later, he ascended up to heaven. He never again took the position of a son in her life.–And presumably he figured that was going to happen, because while on the cross he asked John, one of his followers, to take care of her in future.
Mary was bereft of her son. Did she mark the anniversary as the years went by? My guess is that she, like ourselves in this present world, marked time. Eventually the world came to acknowledge that anniversary, marking time leading up to it. That’s where we are now, on the eve of Good Friday.
I’m marking time. My daughter Catherine’s anniversary is 13th April. I’m arriving in the zone when I reach the anniversary of and remember the last time we shared a coffee, the last meal, the last chat, the last sighting, the last breath… And then on 27th May is Pax’s anniversary. Same story; even after 33 years, the details are crystal clear (or at least I think they are. Memories are strange things.)
Anniversaries are difficult times, sometimes the most difficult point in the year. But in an odd way they can also make us closer. Christians might well feel closer to Jesus as they walk with him through the events of Easter. We might well feel closer to our loved one as we remember those precious last occasions of their presence with us. Perhaps this realisation can help us bear the pain. I hope so, because one thing is certain: Just like Easter, our own special anniversaries – the days of our loved one’s passing – come around again, and again, and …