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.

January 31, 2014

Having coffee with God

On one of the darkest, chilliest days of the year, I met an old friend. This day had been long coming: I’d accidentally managed to stand him up a couple of times before this rendez-vous. He forgave me.

“What’s wrong with you?” the young woman asks her co-worker, Joe. She’s been trying to convey a message from their boss, but Joe seems to be on another planet.

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.