“Woman, why are you crying?” Easter Season Contemplations

by Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde, Visitation Companion

“Mommy, why are you crying?”

Woman, why are you crying? - John 20:15

"Woman, why are you crying?" - John 20:15

I was sitting on the steps of my almost-three-year-old’s daycare provider’s house. I thought I had planned enough time for this transition in our day. I had risen early for my once-a-month- massage appointment. I had left the house early and snuck back in, all peace and relaxation and joy oozing through my muscles, in order to collect my drowsy preschooler from her dad’s arms and drop her at the daycare before my late-morning meeting. Forty five minutes surely had to be enough time to travel less than a mile and then back — right?

The two-year-ten-month-old child, however, was not having it. This Monday she wanted nothing but mommy or daddy. The supposed ten-minute-max drop off went terribly wrong. There were tears and screams and pleas for home — for her blanket, for her father, for me! — coupled with clinging. After all negotiations and requests and attempts at soothing were offered, I headed back out the door with said child still attached to me. Plan B to return her to her resting father was in line.

I was anxious. I was now late. My clock read fifteen minutes passed my meeting time. How had all those extra minutes ticked away? Tears and tantrums (of both children and their parents) are truly the pressure cooker of a time-suck.

Can you imagine the thoughts racing through my mind? Can you hear your own in such a chaotic, late-running-Monday-morning?

I hadn’t planned well. I was clearly a bad mother. I was clearly a poor professional. I couldn’t even make a meeting on time. If I had only thought or prepared a little bit better, then I wouldn’t be in this jam.

I wanted to reach out to the person waiting for me, communicate my dilemma or tardiness, but I didn’t have her phone number. And there was the sniffling kid on my arm – and her bag over my other shoulder – that kept me feeling unable to properly, calmly reach out  and communicate my whereabouts.  At that minute, my cell phone rang. It was the woman waiting for me. Taking a deep breathe, I tried to relay that I was delayed, but would be there, if she could wait. (We had been trying to schedule this meeting for six plus weeks.) I exhaled, and she responded:

“Do not worry. I get it. Take your time. I’ll be here.” It was her compassion, her generosity, her own knowing as a mother, that inspired my tears. I sat down on the steps, next to my hand-holding daughter, and started weeping.

“Mommy, why are you crying?”

***

I told this story recently on Salesian Monday Night as part of Sr. Mary Margaret and my co-presenation on Contemplative Presence. “How do we live in the present moment? How do we encounter the resurrected Christ in our midst every day? How do we find him in ourselves?” As one of the seven essentials of Monastic life for the Visitation Sisters of North Minneapolis, contemplative presence requires a gentle and loving practice of tuning into the fullness of each moment. In sharing my own story, I offered the question, “How do we live a contemplative presence when we are anxious, haven’t seemingly planned well, or aren’t in a perfect state of peace?” — Or, as Sr. Mary Margaret re-framed it in our post-presentation reflection,  “a little pissed off?”

“Your daughter’s question,” reflected Sr. Mary Margaret, is not unlike Christ’s question to Mary Magdalene outside his tomb: “Woman, why are you crying?” (John 20:15)

***

I offer you these thoughts for your own Easter season contemplations. Where are you stuck? Why are you sobbing – in any literal or figurative way? What do your eyes or mind need to turn to in order to see the resurrected Christ in our midst? What joy is hidden behind that veil of tears?

He is Risen! He is you!
EASTER BLESSINGS!

5 Responses

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  1. How do we live in the present moment? WOW! This is a timely post for me. I have been struggling for 4 months with living in the present moment. I see it done by the Visitation Sisters, the Companions, and many others, as well as the two year and 10 month old who always lives moment to moment (as only children seem to be able to do). Yet, I am still struggling with doing this and beating myself up with all kinds of questions and less-than-flattering comments as I will my mind to stop racing from thought to thought…

    I am trying to take it all in 15-30 minute increments, thinking if I can just be present to the moment for 30 minutes then maybe I can do 45 and etc.

    I look forward to other comments and suggestions.

    Jody T.

  2. I love what you wrote, Jody, about taking 15-30 minute increments . . . maybe I could do that if I can’t do a whole day!

  3. Right? Thanks for both of your comments, Jody and Marsha! I say, “Let’s start with this moment, and go from there. And wow, here’s another moment. And then we let that go, and bingo! We have succeeded.”

    It’s easy, for a second, and then oh- so-challenging as we intellectualize it all, or grapple with “presence.” How do we recognize and acknowledge this mystery of being the resurrected Christ in each breath? It requires REFLECTION, and Mary Margaret was helpful to point out to me that our reflections occur “in the present moment.” Does that help you? …. I sit at the feet of Sr. Mary Margaret and just take notes. For me: she’s all wise mystic and full human in each breath.

    One more comment tidbit: the sisters speak of “The stability of the present moment”…. That it never fails us. We return to our breathing and to the goodness of God. We look toward monastics dwelling among us as offering glimpses of how to live this stability, and embody this practice or stance in our own blessed posts….

    LOVE! LIVE JESUS!
    Melissa

  4. Oh Melissa…how timely! I was feeling irritated and grumpy today – trying to tell myself this is all God’s will and I need to accept but, nevertheless, being very irritable. And up pops your blog…why am I crying (translate grumbling, being irritable) when God is here and cares and loves and wants me to sometimes feel this way so as to find Him?
    Thank you for sharing yourself. (I met you in St. Louis so I am happy to have a “personal” memory of you!)
    Easter season blessings!
    Jean

  5. Jean!
    It’s so great to hear from you! I’m glad this post found some resonance in your own life and spirit. Blessings as we all make our way and claim Christ’s love and presence in our midst!

    Easter season blessings back at you!
    LIVE + JESUS!
    Melissa

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