Great Shining Tears

Catherinanne here for Kevin.  They have been some long difficult days, but they have been filled with blessings too.  And it seems these days that I am learning to be more direct and to put in place the things that we need to assist Kevin (and me) through this journey.  Today, as I was trying to run out the door, choking down a quickly warmed up lunch to make the next meeting, a man came to the door.  Coughing as I opened the door, I told him that we had a lot going on, and that he must simply tell me what he needed.  That was not an easy conversation, likely for him, because I kept telling him he needed to get more to the point.  I was trying to give him the dignity that each of us is due, but he wasn’t making it easy.  When I again asked him to simply state what his business was about, he told me they dealt with investments and insurance.  I thanked him and told him our needs were cared for – to which he replied, “by who?”  I don’t think he was prepared for my response.  I had tried to be firm yet polite, but my patience had run out.  “I told you I am running to work, and that my husband is not well, so please let us be.”  And I closed the door.

As much as I have been learning to ask for help, the people around me have been supporting.  They have understood when I could not make timings.  Sr. Mary Frances, Celina, and my student leadership team have picked up so many things to help.  They have taken initiative.  They are a significant part of what will make the next few days truly special for the Brescia community.

Each of them, and each of you who has reached out, shovelled out, listened, messaged, or shared humour, has made a tremendous difference.  I have wanted to send so many messages back, and to thank you for your kindnesses, but managing it all has been a little more challenging than I might have dreamed.  Importantly, your prayers have been carrying us both through it all.

We were so very glad today to get some special cards and letters which set the stage for more good news from the concussion specialists.  There is a long way still to go, and there may be setbacks, but we are going to try to help Kevin slowly return to work!  It will need to be gradual, and we will all need to work together to assist him as he learns the proper limits.  It will take a lot of planning, and scheduling, and understanding.  And Kevin will be different, yet the same.  I think it will be a time of learning for all of us, yet something that will assist in learning and knowing our own limits too.  Beyond learning how to quickly face someone at the door, I have learned that when Kevin says he is done – he is done.  Sometimes I wish he would give me even a two minute warning, but his brain does not always give even him that warning!  So we will see how the next few days go, and we hope that Tuesday he will try 2 or 3 hours with limited screens, correspondence, etc.  It will take a while until he can manage a full Service, but we are working toward that goal.  And we are especially grateful that he will begin specialized physio at the beginning of February.  Please continue to pray, and please continue to learn with us.

And now, in Kevin’s words:

Great shining tears! Three powerful words. I have been listening to the seven novels of the Chronicles of Narnia these past couple of days. In The Magician’s Nephew, Digory Kirke and his friend Polly are sent to Narnia via magical rings. Once there Digory sees that things are extraordinary. He is desperate to find a cure for his dying and suffering mother. There must be something in this mystical and magical land of Narnia that could save her. He pleads with Aslan, the great lion, who has brought this beautiful land of Narnia to life. In the narrated version Digory recalls to the listener;

Up till then I had been looking at the Lion’s great feet and the huge claws on them; now, I looked up at its face. What I saw surprised me as much as anything in my whole life. For the tawny face was bent down near my own and (wonder of wonders) great shining tears stood in the Lion’s eyes. They were such big, bright tears compared to my own that for a moment I felt as if the Lion must really be sorrier about my Mother than I was.

To which Aslan replies

‘My son, my son. I know. Pain and Grief are great.”…Let us be good to one another!

“Great shining tears!” I must say that listening to the BBC’s production of this tale made those words all the more powerful for me. I am sure I may have noticed those words on first reading this book long ago… But hearing them spoken in my ear was a moving experience indeed.

CS Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, while not everyone’s cup of tea, are meaningful to me. The obvious Christian influence shines through in all seven of the novels. When hearing these particular words yesterday, I found myself reflecting on the story of Jesus when he encountered Mary and Martha at the death of those brother Lazarus as told in the Gospel of John. Upon hearing of the death of Lazarus Jesus sets out to go to Bethany. Before he even arrives Mary and Martha run to meet him in their despair. They cry from the deepest part of their being. From a deep place of grief they call out

“JESUS! Where were you? JESUS! If you had been here our brother would not have died!”

Jesus is moved by these two grieving sisters. His response? Great shining tears!

The Gospeller writes;

When Jesus saw (Mary) crying and the Jews who had come with her crying also, he was deeply disturbed and troubled. He asked, “Where have you laid him?” They replied, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus began to cry. The people said, “See how much he loved him!” ~ John 11:33-35

Indeed, Jesus wept upon seeing the suffering of Mary, Martha, and the friends of Lazarus. And yes, Aslan wept in the face of Digory Kirke’s pain and suffering. I just love the imagery that CS Lewis uses to describe that moment of empathy.

“His tawny face was bent down near my face.”

It is a comforting thought to imagine the face of the Creator of all bending low… coming close to the face of suffering in this world, coming near to my own suffering.

Yesterday, I enjoyed spending some time with my dear friend John. His efforts to reach out to me and to offer comfort and consolation and love since my fall at the end of this past year have been, for me, a reflection of the power of those ‘Great Shining Tears.’ Knowing that a friend would care to enter into my pain is a comfort. I hasten to add, it does not remove any of my torment. It does not take away my post concussive syndrome. Yet it helps me live through it.

“Let us be good to one another.”

This morning my dear friend Sue called me. She listened to me as I lamented my situation. Like John, she did not offer a solution to my problem. She did not try to find easy answers. Nor did she use too many words to try and explain it all away. She simply called so I would know that she loves me. It brought me comfort.

“Let us be good to one another.”

Sam Thomas is the Archdeacon of London. He has been incredibly supportive. His care, his prayers, and his guidance during this time, have been incredible. His counsel and his care have not cured me. But knowing he cares has helped me carry on. 

“Let us be good to one another.”

Almost daily, I am receiving beautiful cards, emails, Facebook posts, calls, texts, and tweets, from people who want me to know how much they care ~ A simple word to let me know they are praying. The beautiful cards from the children of the parish were delivered to me on a day when I really needed to read them. Actually it is overwhelming. None of it removes the post concussive syndrome. Yet I feel better knowing that somebody else cares.

“Let us be good to one another.”

Again, on a daily basis, I am eating meals that so many in my parish community have prepared for me and for Catherinanne, and which Sandy has taken great time to organize. Incredibly overwhelming. And each day leaders at St Aidan’s church are doing all that is necessary to see that the day-to-day operational needs, pastoral needs, and liturgical requirements are met. None of this takes away my symptoms, but it sure helps me feel better knowing that I am not on this journey alone.

“Let us be good to one another

Day after day since New Year’s Eve, my wife Catherinanne has been tending to my every need. She has not left this house without asking if there is anything I need before she goes. She reminds me daily that I am loved. She has cared about me to the point of risking being an annoyance. And I feel loved. It is overwhelming.

“Let us be good to one another.”

Indeed in these past four weeks I feel much like our little friend Digory felt when the great Aslan looked at him with eyes full of Shining Tears. I feel like each call, card, meal, gift, thought, and prayer beckons me to look up from the dust and to look into the face of compassion. I have become very aware of “Great Shining Tears.” I feel as though so many ‘are sorrier’ about my torment than I am. The face of compassion has bent low. The face of compassion and love has come near to my face. I have been consoled by “Great Shining Tears.”

Today has been a good day. I know I have a long way to go and there will be setbacks yet. I am progressing and each day offers new opportunity. So I will daily make my prayer petition,

“Let us be good to one another.”

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