I have never been a big fan of parades. They’ve always been sort of, well, disappointing. Maybe it’s that I know I can go buy all the candy I want WITHOUT having to sit all day and fight the person next to me for it.
Then I came down to Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
Being here, in what I will forever think of as Parade Central, I have had some moments to reflect on Mary in ways I haven’t before.
It seems unlikely, doesn’t it? Here we are, beads flying through the air and songs about Who Dat blaring everywhere, and I’m thinking about the Blessed Mother.
What’s SHE got to do with this?
Well, here’s the thing. At the parades, I noticed who was NOT there. As my sister-in-law held my two-year-old and laughed with my five-year-old, I thought of Mary at the foot of the cross.
These parades have been a special sort of cross for my sister-in-law. The Mardi Gras celebrations were their family’s THING. They made a week of it, reveling and cooking out and doing all the things that we Ohioans associate with Buckeye Football. In fact, my late brother-in-law had gotten so into things that he was even riding on a float.
As we watched that float go by, everyone cheering and laughing and reaching up, I looked over at my sister-in-law.
Suddenly, I was at the foot of the cross, watching the Blessed Mother.
Did the women with her wonder, as I do looking at my sister-in-law, how much more she could take? Did they feel their grief as a stab, a cold reminder of life, faced as they must have been with the enormity of her misery? Did they see her tear-streaked face and see the next day would hold for her?
What was that next day? What did it hold? Where did that grief go? Who wiped up the tears?
It’s so easy to distance myself from the tears that threaten to drown my loved ones when I’m a thousand miles away. It’s so easy to move on with my life, to offer a quick prayer and not have my SELF moved or changed.
But here, beside the dry eyes that hide grief torn depths, here I find myself standing beside Mary.
And I’m looking at her, and I’m wondering, HOW MUCH MORE CAN SHE TAKE?
Let’s start Lent there, at the foot of the cross, together. Let’s stand at the foot of the Cross and let Mary comfort us with her tears, let her guide us with her trust, let her teach us with her ongoing Yes.
And while we’re there, beside her, let’s not forget the Son who brought us all together. May she hold you close and lead you to her Son this week.