Living the Beatitudes One at a Time (Fourth Ordinary)

When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said: “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God. You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you …” (Matthew 5: 1 – 4)

Jenn stood on the sidelines, clipboard in hand, coaching the sixth-grade girls’ volleyball team. She encouraged, she cajoled, and she redirected as she moved the girls in and out of the game. Afterward, she sat with her assistant coach as they planned their strategy for the next round of tournament play. Jenn is a former university volleyball player, now a wife and mother of three.

One year ago, Jenn was diagnosed with stage four cancer. From the start Jenn told loved ones: “This is my cancer and I am not a number or a statistic. I need your support and prayers, but I don’t want or need your sense of doom”.

These past months have been filled with tests, scans, treatments, waiting for test results, consultations with doctors, a setback when a brain lesion was found, a reprieve when it was successfully treated. There has been a dying to what was expected from life. Jenn has maintained as much of a normal routine as possible. But the loss is not to be denied. Will she see her kids graduate high school? Will she live to see them marry? None of these things are presumed anymore. Jenn faces the unknown every day – with fear and with confidence, with hope and with dread. There is a death of a kind. But there is grace as well. Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

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