*We share a sensitive story of domestic abuse ending tragically in today's reflection.*
Over the summer I had the privilege of getting to know Joanne, a professional dog-handler, and to write some of her story. Thirty-five years ago, her estranged husband entered her home when Joanne was not there. He shot and killed her three family dogs and then her two teenage sons before killing himself. The worst detail? Her youngest son had defensive wounds. He knew what was happening.
Sometimes there just aren’t words.
In the aftermath of such extraordinary and overwhelming evil, she moved to the country where she met a humble priest at the quiet local parish who counseled her without sentimental platitudes. “You’re like Mary,” he would say. “Mary lost her son; you lost your sons. Pray to Mary.” And she did. Healing, slow-moving and steady, over days and decades, found its way into Joanne’s heart accompanied by the sorrowful heart of Mary.
I wonder at the simplicity and healing in accompaniment.
In the temple, even as a sword would pierce her heart, Mary was accompanied by Joseph, Simeon, and Anna (see Luke 2:35). At the foot of the Cross, Mary was joined by Magdalene and John. And Joanne had her humble country priest.
If Our Lady of Sorrows has taught me anything, it is to reverence the grief and pain in others; it is sacred territory. And far more important than anything I might say, I can simply offer the gift of my quiet presence and witness.
When we encounter the piercing sword of another, I beg you, Blessed Mother, show me the best way to reverence her pain and walk with her a while on the road to healing.