“Walk with me,” she beckons, one hand outstretched as if to take mine, and one hand over her heart. That heart, ringed with a garland of beautiful flowers, has been deeply and thoroughly pierced with a sword.
Her smile trembles as her eyes brim with tears about to spill over—but her eyes do not leave mine. She does not shy away from meeting my gaze, even in her own pain.
Young—so young—and newly postpartum, she reaches out to me, inviting me to hold her hand as I shoulder the cross of my troubles, that ever-heavier burden of cares and worries that knocks me down at times under its weight.
“I’ll help you up,” she assures me, reaching out her hand again to lift me off my knees, to catch me as I stumble forward, my vision blurred by my own tears.
“I’ll walk with you,” she promises. Sorrow and joy are no strangers to her. As I cast down my cares with each bead that slides between my fingers, she listens.
She knows all my pain—the pain I’ll talk about, and the pain I feel I have to keep inside. She knows. And she cares. And in my pain, I know I’m not walking alone. I know she is beside me, holding out her hand to guide me, to lift me up, to hold me up.
“I’m here,” she assures me, as every mother assures her little child in fear or pain. “I’m here.”
And as I stumble along, bolstered by contemplating the joy, the light, the sorrow, and the glory she has witnessed, I look into her eyes, answering her trembling smile with my own.
Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.
Copyright 2022 Barb Szyszkiewicz
Photos: unattributed painting of Our Lady of Sorrows, found in Resurrection Parish Adoration Chapel, Delran, NJ; photographed by Barb Szyszkiewicz