Shower taken, clothes on, hair coiffed, make-up applied and breakfast gobbled, I was sounding the five minute alarm in an attempt to move my crew toward the waiting van when that familiar “Bzerrrt” rang out. Like one of Pavlov’s dogs, I stopped and reached for my cell phone.
“She’s not doing well,” the text began. An old, dear friend recently contacted me after his mother suffered debilitating strokes. It had been years since our last meeting, but time melted away when I heard his voice. The night before, I’d sent him a check-in message to inquire about her progress, but this text deflated my hopefulness.
No time to sit and respond, the children and I climbed aboard and sped (no more than 6 miles over the limit cuz there’s no way I’m getting another ticket in my big pro-life stickered, family van) to the First Friday Children’s Holy Hour. Thankfully we arrived with some minutes to spare, so I joined the mama circle of chatter.
We were talking about Latin lessons and study habits when the pretty, young daughter of a friend stepped through the door. Her mother had been admitted to the hospital with pregnancy complications just the day before, so I took her grinning appearance as a harbinger of good news. But then the mama who had carpooled her to the holy hour joined the conversation clutch and somberly informed us that the mother we’d been fervently praying for had delivered her too-soon-to-be-born baby during the night. The sweet, little harbinger still did not know the sorrowful news.
While attempting to digest that reality, someone happened to mention the loss of yet another precious expected one in miscarriage. Completely unprepared, I felt like someone had just punched me in the gut. Their losses twinged that tender nerve that carries me back to my own memories of intense anguish and confusion. Not to mention, I couldn’t help, but feel the weight of disappointment in yet another seemingly unanswered prayer.
Thankfully, a gentle interruption soon came reminding us that the holy hour was beginning. Deflated by all the sad reports, I quietly followed the children into the sanctuary and found my place in the pew.
Then the bell was rung, announcing the procession to the altar. Once we’d risen, Monsignor started that familiar hymn which he often leads daily communicants in. “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus in the morning, Jesus in the noon-time, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus when the sun goes down.”
A simple song, easy to sing along with (even without musical accompaniment), it had become a favorite of mine, but until that minute I suppose I’d been most attracted by its easy repetitive rhythm and uncomplicated lyrics. Hearing the song again, on that particular morning, it spoke something new to my heart.
A sudden rush of euphoria lifted my spirit up as Monsignor led the verse again. Staring at the monstrance which would hold my beloved Jesus, I understood. Like the clarity you get when someone corrects your mixed-up version of the song you’ve been crooning (like when you finally realized Jimi Hendrix wanted to “kiss the sky” and not “this guy”), Jesus revealed a deeper truth.
“Jesus, Jesus, Jesus in the morning.” The rising of the sun, the start of every day, morning holds promises of newness and vigor. Those tiny babies, whose earthly time had been so brief, resided in the morning of life.
“Jesus in the noon-time.” Midday, the time when production peaks and energy can run thin. My friend who was caring for his dying mother, the mamas who missed the opportunity to cradle newborns in their arms, all of us who imagine our days will be numbered into years, we’re marching in the noon-time.
“Jesus, Jesus, Jesus when the sun goes down.” Sunset, when the light fades and the invitation to rest looms near. The woman lying on a hospital bed drawing her last breaths, she was watching the setting sun.
My pleaded petitions had not been answered according to my hoped-for designs. Thinking of Martha and Mary, who while newly in their grief had insisted their brother would not have died if Jesus had only come sooner, I could relate to their disappointment. But on this day Jesus was reminding me, through the words of a hymn, that nothing had escaped His vigilant watch. Not then and not now.
So where is our Lord when the storms rage and illness overcomes the body? He is there in every moment. He is constant. He is steadfast. He is unchanging. Not one cry or whispered plea escapes His hearing. He established our days from the rising to the setting.
As the lyrics proceeded, I filled with greater awe and wonder that the God of the whole universe might care to offer me this sweet consolation. How many times I buzz through my days, following in the well-worn grooves of my routine. Sure I remember to talk with God now and again, but some hours I can be careless and self-absorbed. Jesus, however, is there in every solitary second. We are never alone in the journey.
Indeed, inspired by this simple hymn, I will do better to follow the song’s instructions- to praise Him, to love Him and to serve Him in the morning and in the noon-time and when the sun goes down.