by Marian West, volunteer in Brooklyn, NY
At the start of this Lenten Season, we asked ourselves as a community how we’d like to journey together closer to Christ’s Cross, the Tree of Life and Love, and our new life at Easter. I appreciate very much the invitation put forth: that, led by Mary, our Mother of Compassion, we go deeper in our mission, instead of trying to add on to it with more prayer, more sacrifices, more “stuff.” It is an awakening call to live fully what is given. To lock our questions into the wood of the Cross and adore. To lay down our thoughts and worries into the beauties and joys given within the blessed boundaries of this day. To ask Jesus to reveal the wondrous mystery of Himself and ourselves to us, that we may be fully alive! To eagerly await Him. But where, how do I encounter Him? In the very concrete: the face behind the doorbell, the voice behind the telephone ring. In the cry of Noelia, Gertrude, Maria, Toby, in the cheery wave of Carmen and Miguel. Lent: a time to rend our hearts to the naked need of each heart from each lonely corner in our neighborhood. To let our fast be feasting on Christ and feeding His hungry little ones. To let our very selves be comfort food for our friends.
Friends like Maria, my Babbushka, my sweet Russian Grandmother. Every Wednesday, we go to visit her in a nearby Nursing Home. I usually find her lying on her bed, resting peacefully. On Ash Wednesday, however, Maria looked different. She was resting, but her brow was furrowed, pained by a nightmare or sadness. I sat beside her, noticing that her eyes were red and puffy. As she awoke from her inner world and came into our glance, she began to cry. “I been crying all the day, like big baby! Only crying.” “I just lie here all day. No work. No walk. No one. Just lie here. I like a lost lamb in the woods. A lost lamb. No home.” She cried and then began laughing. A big smile bubbling over through her tears. She looked at me. “But you! You remember me! You come to find me here! You no forget me! You thinkin’ of me.” . She clasps her hands together, eyes twinkling with joy and delight. “I growing now. I growing!"