“Loving can hurt . . . loving can hurt sometimes . . .”
So came the song lyrics by Ed Sheeran on the radio. I was driving to my pregnancy appointment a little teary-eyed. It was another surprise pregnancy, baby number five, and my oldest was only six years old. How would I handle this? I was anxious, worried, and fearful. My body still had not recovered from the last time around and I was living in chronic pain.
“When it gets hard, you know it can get hard sometimes. But it’s the only thing that makes us feel alive . . .”
The more I listened to the lyrics the more the tears streamed down my cheek. I cried out, “Yes! It really is hard, Lord!” It’s hard to offer your body and your heart . . . for love.
“Loving can heal . . . loving can mend your soul.”
Yes, I thought to myself, still listening, still driving. This is what love does. It heals. It mends. This new child will be a gift. A new way for love to enter the world and transform hearts. For sure this is not the timing I would have chosen for myself, but maybe it’s better to surrender the control, and just to receive God’s gift. Let go of the anxiety. Allow love to mend my soul.
Today is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Mary appeared to a humble servant, Juan Diego, in 1531. The miraculous image left on Juan Diego’s cloak reveals a pregnant Mary—a courageous, vulnerable, receptive Mary, whose “yes” to life crushes the head of the serpent and changes the world.
All throughout history the sacrifice of the innocents is a sign of the devil. The evil Pharaoh of old who drowned the infants in the Nile (Ex 1-3), the abominable child sacrifice to the god Molech (Lev 18), Herod the Great’s massacre of the infants (Mt 2), the Aztecs in Juan Diego’s time (1530’s) who slaughtered their own innocents . . . and the evil still exists today. In fact, Molech is still with us, but he goes by another, more anesthetized name. It begins with “A.”
The appearance of our Lady of Guadalupe miraculously led to the conversion of thousands and put an end at that time to human sacrifice. Somehow, in God’s plan, motherhood is the answer to evil. Motherhood invites the love that heals . . . the love that mends, the love that makes us come alive, even when at times, it hurts.
“I swear it will get easier . . . remember that with every piece of ya . . . [Love] is the only thing we take with us when we die . . .”
As I sat in my van listening to the lyrics, I thought of Mary receiving an unexpected pregnancy, and the amazing gift she gave to the world through her motherhood. I wish I had her courage, her trust, her peace. But instead, I often have fear, anxiety, and pain.
But these are the words that Our Lady of Guadalupe, my mother and your mother, wishes to speak to your heart today:
“Listen and let it penetrate your heart. Do not be troubled or weighed down with grief. Do not fear any illness, or vexation, or anxiety, or pain. Am I not here who am your mother? Are you not under the shadow of my protection? Are you not in the folds of my mantle? In the crossings of my arms? Is there anything else you need?” (Our Lady of Guadalupe to Juan Diego)
At last a wave of peace filled my heart. I was not alone. I need not be afraid. I have a tender mother who wants to know my needs, to entrust them to her heart, and to shower me with love.
Yes, indeed Lord, your Mother’s love can heal, can mend, can make us come alive.