Only after Pain Comes Life

Michelangelo, “Pieta”

Mother’s Day

When one becomes a parent, one takes on the joy and the heartbreak that accompany unconditional love. Madeleine L’Engle captures it all in “Three Days.” On Good Friday Mary cries out in agony, “My God, I didn’t know it would be like this,” and on Saturday her heart falters: “What is this darkness over the face of the earth?”

Mary then experiences the Easter resurrection as a second birth, remembering the tumult of the birthing process. “For every birth follows a kind of death,” she thinks, “and only after pain comes life.” Birthing contains a secret that Mary recalls only after Jesus is born again.

Three Days

By Madeleine L’Engle

Friday:
When you agree to be the mother of God
you make no conditions, no stipulations.
You flinch before neither cruel thorn nor rod.
You accept the tears; you endure the tribulations.

But, my God, I didn’t know it would be like this.
I didn’t ask for a child so different from others.
I wanted only the ordinary bliss,
to be the most mundane of mothers.

Saturday:
When I first saw the mystery of the Word
made flesh I never thought that in his side
I’d see the callous wound of Roman sword
piercing my heart on the hill where he died.

How can the Word be silenced? Where has it gone?
Where are the angel voices that sang at his birth?
My frail heart falters. I need the light of the Son.
What is this darkness over the face of the earth?

Sunday:
Dear God, He has come, the Word has come again.
There is no terror left in silence, in clouds, in gloom.
He has conquered the hate; he has overcome the pain.
Where, days ago, was death lies only an empty tomb.

The secret should have come to me with his birth,
when glory shone through darkness, peace through strife.
For every birth follows a kind of death, and only after pain comes life.

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