In Memoriam: A Colloquy Dream
So it’s hard to sleep on Christmas Eve, when it’s your first Christmas without a mother. So as I tearfully and mercifully drifted off last night, there was no doubt that like St Joseph, I was going to dream.
I’m a frequent practitioner of the Ignatian Examen and particularly of the colloquy, that is, the imaginative conversation that St. Ignatius invites us to have with Jesus about the rhythms of our daily lives. For me, some days Jesus is quite talkative and some days he just sits with me.
Often, I take things a step further. If someone is on my mind in a given day, I will imagine that I bring them with me to the colloquy and we have a discussion together with Jesus. I may be having a disagreement with them, or they may have asked for my prayers, or I might be worried about them.
This spilled over into my dream this first Christmas without mom. And my dream, was in fact, a colloquy with Jesus and my mother. The first thing Jesus said to me was, “Your mother died. I’m so sorry. You know, you have one on me now. I never experienced my own mother’s death.”
I realized immediately that he was right. Jesus died while his mother watched. Additionally, Catholic teaching has taught that Mary, at the end of her life, was “assumed” into heaven. There are some that say that she actually died but that her body and soul left earth and others say that she never tasted death but miraculously was taken up by God into heaven. It’s a great mystery. But suffice it to say that the human Jesus never had to mourn his mother’s death. His foster-father, Joseph, is assumed to be dead, being older than Mary and additionally not being seen at the foot of the Cross. So mourning a father, we have shared that experience.
In my colloquy, I also imagined my mother was there with Jesus. She thanked me for all the recent visits on FaceTime during the pandemic and for all the times we shared as son and mother. She forgives me for being a bratty teenager and a neglectful person. She then begins to ask for my forgiveness and listen to things that she’s held on to that I long had forgotten and accept her apology and embrace her.
Jesus says to us: “I never experienced my own mother’s death.” And it’s there that Mary comes in eavesdropping on us. She simply nods my way and rolls her eyes a bit at her God-son. Jesus sees her and laughs a bit and touched by all that is before him looks to mom and says, “Well done.”
Mom looks to me as says, “Purgatory is a lot like being in a hospital. You heal from the old wounds and heal other people’s wounds too. These were the last wounds I had to heal today. Thank you for praying for me, for “re-membering” me to Christ. For asking others to also remember and pray for me. Let us pray for you now for awhile.”
Jesus replies: “The pain you have to suffer is not one that my humanity experienced, so the least I can do is to help you carry it. Will you let all of us help you carry it? Not just me, but all the members of my body?” And then without warning, springing forth from Jesus’ Sacred Heart was my father. My wife’s mother, my friend Paul’s mother and sister, old schoolteachers, my college roommate (now gone for 25 years), the great Bill Barry, SJ, and great Paulists, Rich Colgan, Frank Diskin and Joe Mahon...all coming forward to say the words “Will you let me carry your pain?”
I thought the parade of this communion of Saints would never cease...but then they all seemed to merge into one glorious light. And Jesus with my mother’s face is there lifting me into the light. I tell him that I will let him carry me for awhile. And it is more than enough for me.
Christmas is no longer lonely and sad. My anger and sadness has been carried away by the one who carries my mother and all those who have gone before us more closely to Himself now. Jesus asks me to stop being filled with all the things I cannot carry alone, and instead, be embraced by the one who takes on all our pain and turns it into a love beyond even a mother’s love.