Shared Joy, Shared Sorrow.
“Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow.” –Swedish Proverb
Throughout this summer, our team has shared many joys and sorrows. We have laughed together, cried together, and learned from each other. The beauty of community life has challenged us to grow personally and as a group.
Further, community life has showed me how God answers prayers through the body of Christ. On Friday, I received a call from my dad informing me that my Papaw’s health is rapidly declining. He has been suffering with pancreas cancer, and he took a turn for the worse. As I hung up the phone with my dad, I was overcome with sorrow, and overwhelmed by the gravity of the situation and the reality of my papaw’s condition.
The next walking shift, I was praying the Rosary with Cliff and Teresa. I struggled to pray aloud, as I kept getting choked up. In my raw emotion, I approached the throne of God as I was. I asked Him whether Papaw is really ready to leave this earth. I guess it is selfish to want him to stay here, as this earth is so temporal and Eternal Life is such bliss. Yet I continued to pour out my heart, my hurt, and my concern before Jesus and Momma Mary.
As we continued to pray, I recalled that St. Joseph is the patron saint of a happy death. I silently asked for his intercession, and we continued to pray the Rosary. The shift, though only three miles, was truly a journey of inner turmoil, uncertainty, and surrender. Suddenly, Cliff stopped and picked four small lilies. He proceeded to give two to me and two to Teresa. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. I smiled, realizing that St. Joseph, patron saint of a happy death, was sending me lilies (which he is commonly pictured with and somewhat famous for) in response to my prayers of desperation. I smiled as I remembered that my Papaw’s middle name is Joseph.
Later the walking shift after finishing our Rosary, I shared the significance of his random gift of lilies. I barely managed to finish my St. Joseph story before I became overwhelmed with raw emotion yet again. Cliff, whose response to every situation is prayer, suggested that we pray a Divine Mercy chaplet for papaw. He began leading as we continued our walk. However, he was keenly aware of my stifled sobs, and he stopped walking, turned around, and gave me a huge hug. I became even more aware of the compassion and beauty of the fraternal love that our team has embraced.
As we prayed the Divine Mercy Chaplet, we walked towards a graveyard. Just before reaching the cemetery, there was a random sign that had the word “GRACE” written on it in bold letters. While we were passing the cemetery, we saw Passion flowers, which seemed to fit so perfectly with the prayer, “For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.”
Truly, it was a shift filled with grace and blessings to accompany the hardship and uncertainty. Life has continued, yet the love and compassion of my teammates have continued to be a source of strength and support. I have been given so many blessings…a ginormous hug from Teresa after talking to my dad on the phone, a Divine Mercy medal from Laura, listening ears of compassion, and countless words of affirmation and kindness.
I initially hesitated to blog about this story, as it is such a personal ongoing journey. I feel removed yet exposed to the suffering and hurt that my family is experiencing and the future is unclear, yet I continue to wait and pray in the silence of uncertainty. However, I wanted to share this story, as it is a vivid reminder of the compassion and love of the Lord amid the trials of life. Further, it is a testament to the beauty and power of empathy. As a result, I wanted to share this story form my journey.
I am truly grateful for the authenticity of my teammates and the grace of the Lord as we continue through the joys and sorrows of this summer together.
-Jessie Graehler, Southern Route 2013