Yesterday, a friend of mine, Jane, a co-worker, lost her Dad. He collasped in the middle of the day at 87 years old and died. She got the news at work via her cell phone and understandably was very upset to hear that her Father had passed away. She instantly began to cry and got up from her chair as all her co-workers, including me, came toward her to lend her a shoulder to cry on. She hugged us all, sobbing in our arms, and we held her and whispered words like "I'm so sorry" and "We love you." Finally, the embracing stopped and she just stood back and looked at us all as we stood around the room. She wiped large tears from her face, smearing her makeup.
I took this moment to look around the room at everyone. There wasn't a dry eye in the room. My own eyes were filled with tears. We were crying for our friend.
But we were also crying for ourselves.
I looked at one co-worker, Denise, who was crying nearly as hard as Jane. Denise had just lost her Dad a few years ago. I had been at the funeral. A younger co-worker at my left, was wiping tears from her eyes with a tissue. Her grandmother had just died a few days ago. I was choked up because I was thinking about my Mom, who was still alive, but only a few years earlier, almost died from a massive stroke. I remember the feeling of dread and fear and profound sorrow when the news came. I remember sitting outside the hospital with my Dad as he cried and asked, "What am I going to do?" I had no answer. I only had tears.
So we cried for Jane because we could empathize. She is a friend. The kind of co-worker who connects with everyone, creates laughs, dances in the office to lighten the mood and epitomizes "team-player." Here she was sobbing, distraught and we all felt her pain. We felt it because we knew it ourselves. We cried for her and for ourselves.
It reminded me of the story in John where Jesus is on the cross. Below him, according to the Gospel of John stands his mother Mary, his Aunt and Mary Magdalene. We do not read in John whether they cried, sobbed, or just stood in solemn silence. I can only imagine they did a little of each. They cried in losing their son, nephew, and friend. Maybe tears flowed as they thought of others who had died before Jesus. Perhaps they thought about their own mortality and that of their children. Would their other children, nephews and friends face the same fate? Would they too be killed for going against the grain of Roman society for following this Jesus?
From what I read in the Gospel, I am pretty sure they did not understand exactly who hung on the cross above them. They knew he was Jesus and he professed to be the "Son of Man". He could do miracles - heal the blind, drive out demons, turn water into wine, walk on water - but who is this, this King of the Jews? They cried, perhaps, not for the death of the Savior, as we understand Him to be this Good Friday, but at the loss of a their son, nephew and dear friend. They loved him and now, he was gone. They cried for him and they cried for themselves.
There IS good news for those who stood at the foot of the cross and for all of us who stood around Jane in the office yesterday. Someday, we will all be together again in a place where there will be no more crying; no more sadness; no more loss. And we will be there with the risen Jesus.
*Names in the story have been changed for privacy