Then going out he went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him.
When he arrived at the place he said to them, “Pray that you may not undergo the test.”
After withdrawing about a stone’s throw from them and kneeling, he prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done.”
And to strengthen him an angel from heaven appeared to him.
He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground.
When he rose from prayer and returned to his disciples, he found them sleeping from grief.
He said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not undergo the test.”
Luke 22: 39-46
I've been reflecting on this Scripture passage for a few weeks now. Earlier this Lent, I realized that God was calling me to join Him in the garden this year. I mentioned it to a friend, completely and totally terrified out of my mind. You see, I've never really had an experience like this before. I've never, ever, had something come so clearly to me in prayer before.
But this year has been different. Every time that I went to Him in prayer.....every time I spent time in Adoration.....during every Mass......every time I contemplated on a Scripture or spiritual reading......Every single time, I heard Him calling me. It was as clear as if He were sitting right next to me. Over and over, He was inviting me into the garden. Into the experience of His agony. Into His sorrow.
And every single time, I sort of freaked out. I refused to go. Instead, I'd shake my head, and say, "No, no, no, You can't possibly mean me. I can't go there with You."
And He kept calling, inviting me in.
When I finally mentioned it to this friend, she lovingly told me....."Go. Trust Him."
I resisted some more, but this weekend....I finally said "Okay, God....if that's what You want from me....I'll try."
It's been slightly surreal. I've felt physical pain that I never knew I could. I've felt emotional anguish so deep that I'd start crying without even realizing it. I felt sorrow that I never knew existed.
I'm not even really sure why I'm sitting here at the computer, blogging about it. Maybe because I'm afraid and need to put words on that fear, in order to process it? Maybe because of the deep sorrow I've felt for the past two days, and the fear of what I'm scared might come tonight and tomorrow? Maybe it was in talking to a friend today about love?
In the past two days, I've watched a actual divide be created between my friends and family, which seems all too fitting, considering it's Holy Week. I've seen people who have been life-long friends enter into arguments that end with cursing and condemnation (from both sides)......and a dissolution of that life-long friendship. I've seen mothers and daughters become estranged. I've seen families torn apart, friendships thrown away. I've seen lifetimes of experiences and love, tossed aside like garbage.
It breaks my heart, and I can only imagine just how much it is breaking His.
I've spent hours, crying in front of my computer, watching people I love and cherish be hurt and ridiculed. Mocked and tormented. Condemned and vilified.
I don't think it is coincidental that all of this is happening during Holy Week.
I don't think it is coincidental that, during this season in which He has been calling me to enter into that agony in the garden with Him, I am watching dearly loved friends and family tear each other apart.
I don't think it is coincidental that, during the week that we Christians remember and celebrate Love.....the purest, most beautiful Love that could ever - and will ever - exist.....that these arguments and divides and hurt all comes down to love.
I've refused to "take sides" on social media, refusing to replace my profile picture with the emblem of one side or another side. This is not because of a lack of "courage" or "conviction" - words that have been thrown around like confetti this week (again, on both sides). I've refused to enter into the arguments (Social media isn't the place for this, I firmly believe) that both sides have tried to bait me into.
This has been deliberate. I was hopeful, as I watched this phenomenon spread throughout social media, that my past actions and conversations with friends would have been witness enough to my beliefs, my desire to love, and my desire to live faithfully and compassionately.
I'm afraid, however, that it would not have been. It wasn't enough for the family members and friends that I've seen turn on each other. It wasn't enough to prevent the pain and agony that I've witnessed this week.
There isn't a graphic - no matter how well-done - that accurately displays the depth of truth and beauty found in love. There isn't a graphic that can accurately display the entire truth of humanity and God's plan for us all.
This is Love.