Mary Marrocco

Mary Marrocco

Dr. Mary Marrocco is an associate secretary for the Canadian Council of Churches. She is also a teacher, writer and lay pastoral worker. Her column, Questioning Faith, features topics about the teachings of our church, scriptures, the lives and writings of the saints and spiritual writers and theologians. She can be reached at marrocco7@sympatico.ca.

Do you ever get that empty feeling? For me, it often happens in grocery stores — nowadays so big you could easily get your day’s exercise there — crammed with foods, tastes, colours.

Recently I received an e-mail from a person who died many months ago.

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.

Late afternoon sunshine brought gold and charcoal shadings. I felt dusty and worn. We’d started early, when it was relatively cool, but the heat grew quickly and we’d wandered through several hot places in the north of Galilee this July day.

I’ve just returned home from Jerusalem, mind and heart overflowing. Of many illuminating experiences requiring reflection and expression, I begin with my visit to Calvary.

“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.

Late one pleasant evening, I was putting out the garbage. A neighbour stepped out with her garbage, too. Seeing me, she came over; I know her only by sight, but I like to get to know my neighbours, so I was pleased. Momentarily.

Elinor had been trying to mend a family relationship but found it ever more broken. She had done all she could think to do, including incessant prayer.

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.

February 27, 2013

The lie of violence

Visiting a friend, I picked up a handsome book, a collection of Icelandic Sagas to pore through. They were wondrous, and not just because some of my ancestors were Vikings. The stories led from Denmark to Iceland and on, to the land they called Vinland, our Newfoundland. There Eric the Red and company arrived in 1001, the first Europeans in the New World. During their second spring there, birch-bark canoes landed near them: their first encounter with native inhabitants. They killed them. The next spring, the natives’ kin found the Vikings and, in their turn, killed as many as they could.