Aren’t there profound moments in life when you feel alone?
I’m not referring to the good times-I’m referring to the tough times of being alone.
Sure, there are those great moments of solitude spent on a hike or on a trip nobody would take with you so you decided to take it anyway (and are glad you did), moments spent in the morning with coffee and a book of reflections-those moments of being alone are to be sought and cherished.
But, there are those other moments of feeling alone that are just painful. Maybe you are the new guy at work, or in your neighborhood or school. Maybe you’re home with a newborn, Law degree hanging on the wall and lots of unknown days ahead of you. Maybe you are negotiating your way into a new weekly routine in the wake of a loved one’s death or having lost your job. It is these moments of being painfully alone that I’m thinking about today.
I’m sharing this video with you not because it is my ole pal’s ordination or because I have any connection with this religious community (Holy Cross). I don’t have any personal connection to this video-well, actually, I do. I love the litany of the saints. I remember hearing it sung in this way in connection with someone’s solemn vow profession back in the early 00’s. I’d never heard it before. Dang. It is so beautiful. We’re asking men and women from across the span of history, cultures, languages, abilities and circumstances to pray for us. We’re asking them to “be there” for us when we need them most-when we are alone. I love references to the “cloud of witnesses” who are there for us. I just read a dumb book by a guy who apparently lost his faith. I don’t even want to reference it here since I’m kind of embarrassed for having trudged through it. Among other things that are now missing from his understanding of the world beyond his hipster glasses is the loss of appreciation for all those who have come before us. Those short Albanian nuns, short Umbrian poets, short popes and others who bushwhacked a path through this overgrown jungle of life, keeping their eye on their trail guide the whole time. You’re not alone and you’re not the first person in the world to do this…whatever this is.
St. Francis of Assisi, in his Testament, says that nobody showed him what to do, only God himself and that he had only the Gospels to look to as a pattern for his life. Surely, the cloud of witnesses were praying for Francis as he bushwhacked his own way.
I’ve never been there, but I’m told the Cathedral in Los Angeles, California has an amazing tapestry depicting this cloud of witnesses. Check out more info on that here:
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