“As they were going out, they met a Cyrenian named Simon; this man they pressed into service to carry his cross.”Matthew 27:32
Recently, I came across an inspirational sign which caught my eye that read, “Slow down, happiness is trying to catch you.” Those words resonated within me and reminded me of my own need to slow down and to be alert and fully present in the current moment, instead of mindlessly forging ahead with whatever projects and goals I may have set for myself. So often we rush around, pursuing our own plans, instead of slowing down to listen to the Holy Spirit’s soft whispering. What we fail to realize is that peace and true happiness will only be found in God’s will, which, very often, we ignore or miss in our hectic pursuit of success and achievement.
The last two weeks have been challenging, as my second daughter, who has a diagnosis of ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder, had a setback and has been home from school, struggling to deal with her diagnoses and the additional burden of depression. These two weeks I have had to let go of my routines and plans and slow down to a crawl to accompany her as she recovers and learns how to cope with life carrying all of these heavy burdens, along with her schoolwork and other responsibilities. I realized that I had been rushing ahead with my life, not fully aware of the extent of the hardships she faces from day to day, trying to survive in a world that is too fast and complex for her to keep up. Although we have tried to meet all of her needs at home and school, I realized she needs more intense care and support than we have been giving her.
This time with her has been a blessing, as I have found happiness and joy in spending quiet moments with her and have been able to appreciate the beautiful soul that she is, and to be thankful that God has gifted our family with her. I felt like Simon the Cyrenian, who was chosen to trudge slowly and painfully through the dust with Jesus as he carried his Cross. I wondered if Simon had to slow down prayerfully to respond to the promptings to the Holy Spirit that lead him to that fateful spot, where he was given his momentous task of assisting our Savior and providing relief to him as he walked the Way of the Cross. Surely, Simon had to sacrifice his own will and plans to assume the duty of carrying the Cross with Jesus. Similarly, we are called to surrender our will and our plans to the Divine Will so we can serve others and cooperate in God’s plan for our lives.
I am thankful to God for the opportunity to be Simon to our daughter, shouldering some of the burden of her heavy crosses for her and hopefully easing some of her pain and suffering. Each of us has the opportunity every day to slow down and find a suffering soul in need of a Simon to help – someone who needs us to lean on or to look to for comfort, aid, or companionship. So many people are suffering spiritually and emotionally in our world; how can we reach out to those around us in need each day? There are people all around us, in our homes, within our families, and among our friends, who are quietly suffering and need a helping hand or a warm embrace. As mothers, we have built-in opportunities to minister to our children daily and help each of them to carry their own unique crosses.
Mother Teresa told us to “find our own Calcutta,” where we can bring Christ to others. “Giving drink to the thirsty” can involve more than a cup of water. It can be a visit to the lonely, a word of comfort to the sorrowing, or simply lending an ear to listen to someone who is hurting. When we identify the suffering souls in our lives and reach out to them with love and care, we are serving as the hands and feet of Christ to them. This is true happiness and joy – not to acquire more money, possessions, status, or power, but to serve others and receive the grace that comes with imitating Christ in our lives. Who are the suffering souls in your life, and how can you be Simon to them today?