Dr. Mary Marrocco is an associate secretary for the Canadian Council of Churches. She is also a teacher, writer and lay pastoral worker. Morrocco explores the lives and writings of the saints, spiritual writers and theologians‚ and how they relate to contemporary life.
Did I really want to spend a long evening sitting alone in a chapel — not getting done any of the things I wanted to get done, not visiting any of the people I wanted to visit, not having any of the adventures I wanted on a Friday night? Instead, a seven to midnight Lenten prayer vigil.
In one of my favourite stories, four children travel to a secret country. On their second trip, they discover the ruins of a castle. Together they descend a dark, cold staircase into a vast underground chamber. Shining flashlights all round, they discover it’s filled with gems, jewels and treasures, all covered over with thick layers of dust.
Sharon sat on one side of it, James on the other. It was too tall to climb, too thick to break, too endless to go around. They couldn’t hear each other through its mass. The morning sun coming through the window shone on them both, but they were looking at the floor. Each felt alone, abandoned, angry and a little afraid, sitting some distance away from that wall, unmoving. Her arms were folded on her chest. He was sunk into his chair like a reprimanded six-year-old. Given its immense size and the innumerable ways it affected their lives, it’s surprising they could get so used to the invisible wall. And it ran right down the middle of their marriage.
“Why am I alive and on this Earth? Why doesn’t anyone care about me? I can see why nobody cares about me, but why must I end up alone? What’s the point of my life?” These questions are interspersed through my friend’s conversation, as though looking for an answer but not really expecting one. It’s just as well, as I have none, none.
A colleague drove me home, a long trip across the city. I volunteered directions. He, absorbed in the dulcet tones and colourful maps offered by his GPS (Global Positioning System), didn’t listen. The computer knew better than I did where I lived and how to get there. “Her” regularly interjected directions were the influential force of that journey.