I gazed at the bookshelf of well loved volumes from years gone by and pondered which one to choose. I had brought my own book to read but for whatever reason, it just didn’t feel right on this particular night. I selected a book somewhat randomly, satisfied that it would soothe the searchings of my soul. After settling into the cozy, warm bed in the upstairs room of my Dad’s Cape Cod home, I opened the tattered book and began to read.
I had finished the first absorbing chapter and a half of the book when I decided to call it a night. It had been a long day which included a lengthy drive from my home to the Cape. I had no bookmark and wanted to keep my place, so I took the cover off the old book to remember my page. Upon doing this, my eyes fell upon something amazing on the front blank page. My heart skipped a beat when I realized what I was looking at…
In her signature left-handed script, Mom was speaking directly to me (to all of us.) On the page in front of me, in a book that had been nestled deep inside my parent’s bookshelf, was her voice – in black ink – loud and clear. I stared at her hidden message for quite some time before smiling and offering a silent prayer of gratitude for this priceless gift. The back pain of the past few weeks had gotten me a bit down but Mom was reminding me NOT to focus on myself or my own struggles, rather to look outward toward the needs of others for true healing. From her life experience, she knew that inward focus brought little joy or lasting happiness, no matter how much one was hurting. It is only when we look to the other, in the midst of our own pain and indecision, that we find the face of God and in so doing discover enduring happiness.
“Believe, when you are most unhappy, that there is something for you to do in the world. So long as you can sweeten another’s pain, life is not in vain.” – Helen Keller
As we embark on Holy Week, perhaps we can keep Mom’s simple, yet profound hidden message in mind as we accompany Jesus to Calvary. In the midst of busy and complicated lives it is easy to get caught up in ourselves but nothing good ever comes from that. Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us “For it is in giving that we receive.” Perhaps then, we should focus our attention on those who are in great need our heartfelt support. When we live for others, we’ll be helping to carry our Savior’s cross and lessen His burden with our gratitude and love. Lasting joy always follows as we sing Alleluia, Christ is Risen on Easter Sunday.