Bitter-sweet. Thoughtful. Soul-caress.
It’s two years now that I don’t write any pastoral letters anymore. Not for Christmas, and not for Easter. I am a simple member (of the Church). Tonight, the Lord made my heart to write a letter for the widows. It lingered and was ripening for a long time in my thoughts. Mayme for 40 some years. Maybe once with my leaving of the desert that I can articulate some thoughts.
Dear mothers, sisters, daughters,
Today is Christmas Day, the Celebration of Light, Peace, Joy, and in front of you, we hesitate to wish you a MERRY CHRISTMAS! How can it be, when the shadows of loneliness lay heavy on your head, while your hair is hastely withening?
Today, all stay with their families and the fathers open the Scriptures, and the table is fully set. You are shown an empy chair and you weep silently in your napkins, filling them with your tears.
Sursum corda! Lift up your hearts! Keep them up at the Father!
I know how it is! I ate the widows bread. I know how it is to hear the sobbing next door, when my mother was hiding to weep, not wanting us to see her. But we heard.
I know how it is! I know how it is to envy the intact families. How it is to wonder what and how it has to be to have a father at home. How it might be?
But I know as well how it is to find God as being the father of orphans and the shield of the widows. This is something only widows and orphans can find out. God is revealing Himself very differently to the fatherless, as an absolute Father, and to us, my dear ones, the prayer has a very different connotation. We say it differently. Completely.
You will see that Jesus Victor, Jesus the Conquerer, The Heavenly Groom, is so much different to you than to any other woman with-man.
You, not others, will find out that the Name of Jesus is revealed in the Incarnation – Emanuel, God is with us. Deus Nobiscum!
Radu, Nelu, Cristi, Onisim, your men are not with you anymore, but God is! The fathers of your children are not there anymore to hold them on their shoulders, but the Heavenly Father has open Arms through His Spirit and through Christ, toward them, and He carries them on these strong Arms of His. better than the fathers who might let them fall or, being too busy, might lose sight of them.
Today we call God on His Name, His secret Name, hidden as a mystery from the beginning of time, the Name that’s a hoax for the devil – GOD IS WITH US! GOD IS WITH YOU!
If this is how things are, let me guide you on some roads, already travelled ones:
- Don’t despair! The world is not over. History flows on. Life goes on… towards heaven. Look before you, not backwards. Wistfulness will kill your joy and your children will be overwhelmed of the darkness of a too long mourning. Yes, mourning has its meaning. One year. Then, let your mourning aside, let your furrowed brows lighten up. There is a life beyond your sorrow. Your nostalgia (its ethimology – the an yearning for return) mut – MUST – leave you, slowly, if you don’t want to choke your children with your tears. Rejoice, God gave you your children as comfort, so be comforted. This I learned from my mother. She focused on us and, after some time, her face brightened up again. We could laugh, we could joke, we had fun. I had a joyful childhood! I SAY IT AGAIN: THOUGH I BECAME AND ORPHAN, WITH 5, I HAD A JOYFUL CHILDHOOD! VERY JOYFULL!
- Have a future and a hope! Make plans! Travel, have nice holidays. I wasn’t always happy with the destinations my mother chose for our holidays. Călimănești – Căciulata? Awful boredom even for a 10y old. But even now, I can still remember we were TOGETHER! My mother never saved the money for holidays. We went and walked all over the place. We ate like the rich, in restaurants. We WASTED joyfully, as some kind of compensation. Since then I have this desire to travel and haunt. I travel to trace my lost self, to reorient myself! There are still lots of beautiful places, so many places to visit, so many songs to listen to, so many delights that await! They are all on the way! God prepared them for you! Let you be surprised by Him! Don’t blame yourself for having fun!
- Rejoice! I say it again: Rejoice! Rejoice of everything that you still have! Surprises, gifts! Yellow gloves? Red scarf? There was a time when this was all you could get. But I still remember that in those times, when all yearned for bananas, we had them! Unripe, and only two of them, it’s true, but I still love the taste of unripe bananas. It takes me on a ride back in that time when we were so grateful that God gave us something that others didn’t have. Oranges, a scarcity in the ’80s, were waiting for us under the (Christmas)tree. The chinese car, with that deep red color, sour-cherry-like, that little firemen-car which the Santa from our kindergarden brought for ME (nevertheless, I knew that my mom bought it for me and brought it to my teacher to give it to Santa…), it was the greatest and fanciest of all cars received by the other boys in my class. My mother knew how to cheer us up, not to pamper us, but to make us feel loved and special. Nevertheless, we were differend than other children. We were HERS. As a tigress, she jumped to protect us and by this, she gave us rest and comfort. She made countless applications and insisted till we got our apartment from the Party. We rejoiced of the results of her fight! We rejoiced!
- He will take care! No debts! If you are widows, you have no excuse to borrow. There delights are not made by borrows and debts. Your God is rich and He will take care of you, if you learn to gather at proper time, and you will waste only when necessary. Being straight judges and having wisdom will be of help. You can live in abundance and in decent poverty, but always having enough. We never missed a thing! NEVER!
- Don’t put your trust in people, cling to His Body, the Church! Young widows are to remarry. This is how the Scriptures taughts us. But… but… if you don’t (noone should judge you, and remarrying will not mean you betray your husband. No way!), IF you choose not to remarry, don’t put your trust in people. If the Churcu is helping you, yes, but the “goodwilled” man can be a reed which, if you rely on it, might pierce your hand. Trust in the Lord, if this is your choice, and don’t allow yourself to be carried from one worry to another. If you cannot succeed alone, pray that the Lord may give you the help you need. Ask the Church only when having different needs and especially material needs. It is the Church’s duty to look after you. See how many verses are speaking of widows in the Bible!
- Don’t lose the moments, the seconds! Children will grow fast. Very fast. Till you come to your senses from your pain, you might lose their childhood, their teenage, the youth of your children. They lost enough by losing their dad. Don’t lose yourself as a lost child in the woods, who doesn’t find its way anymore. The Light of the Word is a Candle on your path, even on a narrow and dark path as yours.
- Never let the Word and the prayers aside! Call your children to prayer, to evening prayer. Saw the seed of the Word in their hearts! It will bring fruit, sooner or later!
- Rest! Rest in the Lord, spiritually, but rest physically as well. You have the right to! Don’t consider yourself the savior of the world and of your children. You can rear your children, but you cannot save them. Don’t burn out by hyper-empowering yourself. Don’t play the heroes. You don’t need to encourage every living soul, you don’t need to be models for every single human being. You have the right fo be women, weak vessels, to weep and laugh, to cry in despair, to sob now and then, to sleep 8 hours, to feed properly. You have a commandment to keep your Sabath clean.
- Always beautiful! Beautiful, decent and neat. Even if you chose never to remarry, as my mother did, the loss of your husband does not mean to become filthy and hideous as Irinuca, in Creanga’s story, always showing off red-eyed, as a proof for her supreme love. My mother, after she recovered, even now, with 67, is still a stylish and elegant lady, and I am always proud to join her on a walk in town. The beauty of decency and holiness is a celebration of the creation of God, of the way in which He showed you His mercy, even in your bodies. Not alluring, but beautiful to His glory!
- In special service. God gave you to carry a cross. It is not futile. With the comfort you received, you will comfort others. Serve the saints! Serve the grieving women, the widows to be, and how many they will be! God gave you a burden, which the Church will carry with you, but you are the Church as well, and, when you will be old ladies, you will have to teach the younger ones how to love and cherish their husbands and children.
It’s Christmas, dear ones, mothers, sisters, daughters. It is Christmas and it is Light, a Light that defeated the Dark, He crossed the skies to be AS us and WITH us, for one day we might be WITh HIM, and AS HE IS.
This life flies so quickly. From Christmas to Christmas we seem to pass more rapidly, till we reach our last Christmas on this side of heaven.
Drink fully this life, because LIFE it is you have in Him! Walk with grace on your path, because you have already known the WAY, live the crushing truths and the hard realities of loneliness as ones who have already known the TRUTH!
Joy to the world – is sang for you as well! Away in a manger, sweet message this is for you as well!
With holy love,
someone who lived from this other side of widowhood ….
I forgot an important issue: don’t fill your home with photos from the past, especially photos with the one who’s on the other side of heaven. They hurt a lot. In the first weeks after my father died, the photo of my dad was very close, that photo that they had put on his coffin. My sister cried every day, especially in the evening, with his photo in her arms. Too many personal things of the deceased kept too close, too many photos around (put them in albums and open them from time to time), but all these things produce much PAIN. Very much pain. Close this chapter of your life and don’t open it up too often. Make new pictures of your children, make new memories, and new stones of rememberance. There was not by chance this custom of alms-giving the things of the deceased one. We, born-again Christians, don’t have this custom which is not a legal custom at all, not biblically, and not theologically, but offering in the Name of the Lord is a good idea though. It is better to let go as many of his things as possible. Keep some memories, some essentials. That’s it! The fracture has to be complete. Perfect break till the meeting beyond history. Th God of every comfort, He may comfort you!