Friday, April 10, 2009

A Good Friday image that has stayed with me

"Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases."

Many years ago now,I taught school in southern Japan. I taught junior and senior high at a Boys' School. I was the only woman teacher there, and many of the boys in high school were taller than I. There were big strong strapping boys and they all wore black uniforms and they all loved to play sports.

One day one of these big strong boys fell ill. He had been complaining of headaches, I remembered -- and we found out that he had those headaches because he had developed a brain tumor. He ha a very complicated operation to remove the tumor, and then he came back to school. He seemed to be all right, except that the operation had left him blind. I remember seeing him day after day, putting his hand on the shoulder of one of his classmates and following him to his classes. But he would still joke around and he seemed to be in good spirits.

But he wasn't really all right. The operation removed most of his tumor, but not all of it. And after awhile it began to grow again. This time there was nothing they could do, and he began to weaken. He saw many of his dreams for the future disappear. He always spoke about wanting to travel (he wanted to go to America), and now it seemed that he would never have the opportunity. He would never go to college. He would never have a family. The only dream he had left was to graduate from high school. But as he grew weaker, even that dream seemed to fade. He was too weak even to walk up the stairs to his classes.

It was about this time that I began to see a sight that I will never forget. A car would drive up to the front of the school. He and his mother would get out. She would help him and support him as he walked through the front door. When they got to the bottom of the stairs, she put him on her back, and she carried him. She was much smaller and much shorter than he, a tiny Japanese woman, and she carried her big strong 17-year-old son on her back.

"Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases."

I couldn't help it. When I saw her, I thought of Jesus, and she has remained in my mind and my heart, a picture of his strength -- the strength of God. When I think of Jesus at his arrest, telling his captors, "Take me, but let these men go," I think of this woman, willingly bearing the burden of her son, who would do anything to make his one last dream come true. When I think of Jesus, bent over from the weight of the cross, I think of this woman, bent over with the weight of her son on her back. When I think of Jesus, sagging under the weight of our sins, I think of this woman, slowly trudging up the stairs, stronger than she looks, with the strength of love. When I think of Jesus, who looked so small and weak at his crucifixion, I think of this woman, and I know that his weakness is stronger than my strength. Thirsty, he offers us the water of life. Abandoned, he reunites us with one another and with God. Bruised and broken, he heals us. Dying, he gives us life. There is no burden he cannot bear. There is no weight he cannot carry.

"Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases"

10 comments:

zorra said...

Amen.
Thank you.

FranIAm said...

This is what Good Friday is. Thank you Diane, bless you.

PS (PSanafter-thought) said...

What an image!

Kirstin said...

Beautiful. Thank you.

Lauralew said...

OMG. That is a purposeful comment. This is devastating. Thank you for sharing it.

Presbyterian Gal said...

What a profoundly sweet story. God bless that mama and her dear son.

Thank you for sharing this.

mompriest said...

This reminds of what Jan Richardson wrote about Mary holding the body of her son...really powerful images, both.

Magdalene6127 said...

Diane, this absolutely blew me away. Crying. Thank you.

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

What a powerful image. Thank you.

Jan said...

Thank you, Diane.