Editor’s Note: You can read the first part of Death and Resurrection Go Together here.
Then Jesus led His disciples to an orchard called “The Oil Press.”
He told them, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.”
He took Peter, Jacob, and John with Him.
However, an intense feeling of great sorrow plunged His soul into deep sorrow and agony.
And He said to them,
“My heart is overwhelmed and crushed with grief.
It feels as though I’m dying.
Stay here and keep watch with me.”
Matthew 26:36-38 (TPT)
Another month has passed. The journey to the cross with Jesus, using the Exercises of St. Ignatius, has kept me “stuck” in the Garden of Gethsemane. There are days I have avoided going there, and others when I have returned and been frustrated again and again by my lack of ability to enter into Jesus’ suffering. A whole week has passed when my spiritual director, observing my struggle, tells me to sit in the Soul Room and just be with Jesus in His love. Another week has been spent sequestering myself at home as our family mourns several deaths in the family.
Today I return to the Garden, asking for new understanding. I sense Jesus gently saying to quit trying to understand or figure it out.
“Lisa,You don’t have to understand to participate, but just come and be present.
Let go of your thoughts, your analysis, your processing.
Give Me all of you—your mind, your heart, your will.
Just be with Me.”
As I return to the Garden with Jesus, He reminds me of the recent sorrows—of standing in the doorway embracing my sisters-in-law as we received the news of their mother’s death. Crying together for the loss, crying for each other, crying that another family member was gone in a short period of time, crying for my husband who had been with her alone as she passed.
Jesus takes me back to 2011 when I learned of my 17 year old niece’s suicide, of my sister’s increased addiction, of my father-in-law’s death, of the tragic drowning of two boys in my daughter’s high school class. He takes me back to the pain and despair and conflict and anger of that year.
He takes me back to last summer when I received news of a close friend’s son-in-law who was accidentally shot and killed by his best friend on a camping trip, leaving his wife and two children alone. Two families whose lives were changed forever by a senseless act.
He takes me back to my early experiences of intense heartbreak and pain, when I didn’t know if I wanted to go on. I feel the sorrow and hurt of times I’d rather forget.
He tells me to take all that pain—of loss, hurt, betrayal, heartbreak, and grief, of feeling misunderstood, judged, abandoned, and alone—and experience it as a whole, all at once.
That is what He did. Yes, there was pain and agony in the Garden as He considered what lay ahead. If He was willing, as a man, to endure the next eighteen hours on the road to the cross. But, more than that, it was the weight of all the pain and loss and suffering and sin of the world, of His disciples, of all those He loved and loves.
And Jesus invites me to cry with Him, not for Him. To not just let His tears drench my shoulders as He cries, but to let my tears drench His. He reminds me of times throughout my life when He has cried with me, not for me.
That is what He is asking me to do now—to cry with Him. To experience pain and sorrow and heartbreak freely without judging, without holding back, without fear of weakness. To fully experience what it means to be human. To not try and be strong for myself or others (which is what I do), but to just feel, and be present, and love.
Jesus, in the Garden, You were ‘overwhelmed and crushed with grief’ for me, for my sister-in-law whose husband just died, for my children as they struggle with their faith and life, for my grieving husband, for all of mankind, for the condition of the world, the brokenness. You had me in mind when you were slapped and scourged and spit upon. You fell and got up again as You carried the cross because You were thinking of my addicted family members, of my aging parents, of a world in chaos and war and destruction. You had to get there because of us. You were determined because You wanted our freedom. You wanted us to no longer be bound to sin. You wanted life for us—abundant life— free from the weight and bondage of sin and death.
Thank You. Thank You for the love that knows no bounds. For tears that flow for me. Thank You, Jesus, that You did it all for us. Thank You that You made Yourself willing and available to the Father’s will so that we wouldn’t have to live and die with the weight of sin.”
I sit with the emotions of the morning and look at the pile of wet kleenex at my feet. I’m ready to leave the Garden and continue with Jesus to the cross.