A very strange and tragic thing just happened at Seminary …
Last Tuesday night we had our weekly family communion service. Each week one of the covenant groups takes the service, and different people lead a portion – the prayers, the singing, the scripture reading and the sermon. This past week it was the turn of my flatmate’s group and one of the female seminarians read the scripture. She read John 21: 15-17 – where Jesus asks Simon Peter to love and take care of his people. She read the scripture in her mother tongue, a language I didn’t understand, but I knew what she was reading and I could hear the parts that I imagined Jesus would speak, ‘Do you love me? Do you love me? Do you love me? – take care of each other’.
I was so moved by her reading I just closed my eyes and listened. It was quite possibly the most beautiful rendering of scripture I had ever heard… but whilst she read my heart began to ache. Ache in a way I cannot describe, it literally felt like it was being pierced, cracked open, it was deep and incredibly painful, as the service continued, so did the pain. I have had it before at various times and I have come to associate it with God, with listening. I never really know why and I am not always sure how to interpret it and mostly it goes away over time. But this Tuesday it persisted and it got worse, by the time I got back home I could hardly stand it. I asked my flatmate if maybe something had been said as part of the service that I didn’t understand, most of the prayers were in the vernacular as was the singing, so I thought maybe something was said or prayed, which my spirit or my heart had understood but which I had failed to hear or understand in my head. We couldn’t work it out.
The pain persisted over the next few days and I prayed into that scripture to see if I could try and work out if it was connected. It was the reading of the scripture that precipitated the pain, in my mind (and in my heart) there was no doubt.
Two days ago, we received the news that that Seminarian – the one who read the passage – lost her husband in a car accident. He was young. She is young. She has a tiny new baby, and at least one other child that I have seen. We have never really spoken except to greet each other in passing, so I don’t really know her… and yet, I am now convinced, her pain was laid on my heart…
I do not know … even if I could have foreseen it, I could not have prevented it – so why did I feel her pain – so acutely, so physically? I can still feel it.
I really don’t know – all I do know is that I have thought of this woman continually since hearing the news. Every time my heart hurts I think of her and I offer up another prayer, it’s as if I have been carrying her in my heart for a week – well in many ways I have. It made me realise just how connected we are, even when we don’t really know one another, how when one hurts that hurt is mirrored in others and how important it is to listen to our hearts. Listening to our hearts will remind us to care for each other, to look out for each other, to love each other desperately, because we never know what tomorrow will bring.
My heart aches for her, HER heart must be completely and utterly broken.
And all I can do is hold her pain and pray and pray and pray.
Life is short.
Listen to your hearts and LOVE one another – it’s all we are really asked to do.