Weekly Reflection - 3/15/2022
St. Mary's Reflection: Natalie Hala, Liturgist and Verger
All That They Carried: Parables of Resolve
Rose faced the unimaginable heartbreak of the impending sale of her 9 year old daughter Ashley. Enslaved on a South Carolina plantation in the 1850’s, Rose packed a cotton bag for Ashley with a few precious items as tokens of love (a braid of her hair) and essentials for her survival (a tattered dress, 3 handfuls of pecans). Rose never saw Ashley again after the sale. Over time, Ashley’s grand-daughter Ruth hand-stitched her family’s history upon the bag. (image above). All that She Carried, an award winning non-fiction book by Tiya Miles, expands upon this parable of resilience and resolve that “reveals the staying power of love across time-past, present and unfolding.” Image above, "Ashley's Sack," Middleton Place Foundation
Ashley bore “the burdens and trauma and the gifts of fortitude” on her journey sustained by the most precious of nutrients, love. Other journeys are being played out as you read this, most notably in the Ukraine, where backpacks, a snack and perhaps a keepsake replicate Ashley’s bag and its contents. Often on an unanticipated, uprooting journey, the mind is cloudy, emotions are numb and your feet take over, knowing where you are going before your head does. During the course of her journey, Ashley may have witnessed the cotton bag contract as the survival contents so lovingly packed by her mother dwindled. Perhaps it was then that she fell through fear into an all embracing love, the path to truly tasting her aliveness and grounding her resolve. Image to left, "Ukraine, Unknown."
During Lent and Holy Week, we embark on the most sacred passage in the Christian year by revisiting another journey. On this journey, Jesus carried the collective human condition, infused with enduring love. What do you carry with you this Lent? What are the essentials to your wholeness? What is it, if discarded from your behavioral operating system, would make room for the essentials to thrive? We live out this liturgical time through the portal of our own lived experiences and, if truly reflective, confront our own fears and shadows with hope to emerge refreshed as stakeholders in the Risen Christ and actively follow in the footsteps of Jesus in carrying out the gentlest of The Divine’s commands: to love and be loved.
Although not physically on Ashley’s journey, Rose was always with her. Ashley, like all of us, are never cut off from the love of God. God has embroidered on all of our hearts the means within ourselves that can open ways to transform, nourish and endure whatever our earthly lives have in store for us. Regardless of the nature of our individual journeys, the nutrients of love are continuously flowing bountifully between God and human and between humans and humans. This Lenten season, feast on the nutrients from Divine Love and discard the non-essentials and distractions that hinder the path to your heart so, like Ashley’s, “It ‘be’ filled with Love always.”