I have just come back from a . . . . . . . . Pilgrimage to Rome. I left a blank space whilst I try to think of a word to describe my pilgrimage. I ponder for a moment in deepest thought searching for my words, and then come back to the only one word that would suffice.
I have just come back from a PERFECT Pilgrimage to Rome.
It was everything a pilgrimage should have been, exciting, apprehensive, inspiring, prayer-imbued, difficult, awkward, breath-taking, awesome, challenging, painful, releasing, exposing, safe, and somehow both containing and freeing at once. It allowed us all the choice to respond to our name being called in which ever way we heard it. It projected us all forwards into our own personal journeys and yet became unifying. But above all for me it was miraculous. Over the next few blogs (and probably influencing them all for a long while) I should like to share some of my experiences with you.
But first I want to share something other with you. In the days before I left to go to Rome, a dear friend who studies with me lost her baby. She had carried her child deeply into her pregnancy. Baby Isaac was a very special and adored little baby. Isaac had Down’s syndrome coupled with other severe complications, to which the extent of his problems were unknown. My deeply faithful Church of England friend was torn so tortorously with every revelation, at every stage of her pregnancy. With every new development unfolding, medical decisions were presented to her, and held her ultimately responsible for decisions that would incur implications for her unborn child, her other two children, and her and her husband’s lives.
My friend bless her, has been incredibly brave. We prayed continuously as each and every day unfolded as it had to. The unexpected pressures and tensions meant that relations were dynamically and at times I imagine torturously compromised, counselling gave her a platform to express herself, and in deepest prayer and support my friend travelled a courageous journey and pilgrimage of her own. With the right loving support she journeyed on and allowed God to lead the way.
Just before I left for Rome my friend miscarried and baby Isaac died too many weeks before his full term. So filled with grace his mummy said ‘our little angel only stopped on this earth long enough to teach us humility and acceptance and has now gone to be embraced by the arms of our Lord.’ She said she felt broken into a million pieces, laid bare and described her pain as being in agony with her heart being ripped out, her baby sacrificed.
Every day they have been in my prayers, such a heart-breaking journey. I placed all of my prayers before St Peters tomb, and on the last day of my pilgrimage we had a very poignant and beautiful Mass in the Catacombs outside of Rome. The chapel underground where Mass was prayed was just beyond the children’s and tiny babies tombs. We sung and we prayed Mass and I gave all my prayers for baby Isaac up to God.
I have no doubt that my friends are an especially chosen and graced family. Our Heavenly Father blesses them with life eternal, broken-hearted but blessed. Their pain will be transformed by God over time, and they will know Love eternal far greater than many on earth will ever come to realise. I know . . . . all too well.
Love is far stronger than death. As children growing up we learn to lose those whom we love . . . pets, grandparents, aunts, uncles, neighbours etc, and the pain we feel is only ever what we are capable of feeling at that time, and then just as we think we are familiar with grief we lose a closer still Loved one to death. And the pain is so unbearable almost our own death would be easier to bear.
But over time God does transform that pain (even beyond faith) and eventually there is no separation and the two worlds they become one. And years later it matters not for those who see, for there is no separation in Love between the two worlds. Sadly we can only see this when it comes to us. God Bless us All with Love eternal, and one day hearts Will be filled with breath and hope again. I know.
I am sharing parts of the conversations that I had with my friend, as I know that she would not mind, that it may help others in grief.
My dear friend described her Loss as having a part of her die, but I know that what it is that has died is in disguise. It is the very seed of eternal Love, and the more tears that fall, the more that seed is watered and given life. Life in a form only so very few of us can find the words to acknowledge. That new life is not of the earth it is of the spirit, and eventually that spiritual life becomes our real world and everything of an earthly existence dies away and has to be transformed into the spiritual.
It is the most heart wrenching and breaking experience we will ever know, but by this we are given the most spiritual gift. It is those first so unbearable tears and hurting where our own death would be easier, that actually are our dying and our rebirthing, eventually. We will now forever be united in the spirit with our deceased, and eventually the stabbing, aching, wrenching hurting, pain, will become but a quiet still room inside of our soul, that we will retreat to again and again and again . . . until we eventually too will live there fully forever.
God Bless us with Eternal Love. xxx