“Will you lay down your life for me?” John 13:38
During recent spiritual direction sessions, we’ve been exploring how I don’t feel spiritually strong enough to carry the world’s pain. A sense of being tossed around on a boat during a storm without firm footing is with me every time I read the newest headline. It hurts too much to care, and I have used my old friends—distraction and avoidance—to try to calm the storm and quell the pain.
Having a job that allows me the privilege to work remotely, I’ve also been able to go into physical hiding from this suffering during the pandemic. My home and its promise of safety and comfort have been my “tomb” this past year. While we prepare for Jesus to emerge from his tomb this Easter, I have the sense of wanting to stay in here a little longer. Even though I know there is life and goodness waiting outside, I don’t feel ready to engage.
For this reason, I am captivated by the image of Veronica wiping Jesus’ face in the Stations of the Cross. She does what I feel I cannot; Veronica looks into the eyes of the world’s suffering through Jesus and responds with compassionate love in action. While I am sure she is filled with deep grief and sadness at the fate of her dear friend, she has the interior freedom and fortitude to hold space for pain and woundedness in the face of despair.
Veronica invites us to gaze lovingly into the woundedness of the world, and St. Ignatius asks us to consider what is preventing the interior freedom to open our hearts fully. We cannot care for or carry each other at a distance—we know that the only way to sustain the long journey towards justice is in community.
- How are you being called to emerge from the tomb this Easter season?
- In what ways do you attempt to avoid or distract yourself from the world’s suffering?
- How do you sustain yourself for the work for justice in the face of suffering?
Brenna Davis is director of Education for Justice and environmental initiatives for the Ignatian Solidarity Network. She graduated from Boston College in 2010 and served in Cleveland as a Jesuit Volunteer. She previously taught theology, coached cross country, and served as main office coordinator at Saint Martin de Porres, Cleveland’s Cristo Rey High School. During her time there she was the self-proclaimed assistant to the director of facilities in all sustainability initiatives on campus. She is a certified spiritual director and a Cuyahoga County Master Recycler.