Joy Comes in the Morning-Reflections of a Roman Catholic Woman Priest

My friends, It has been a long time since I wrote in these pages. No, I didn’t have a writer’s block. I had a very long night. I cannot count the number of funerals and Memorials I have done since my beloved life partner and co-Pastor Judy Beaumont went home to our loving God after a battle with Leukemia, her fourth cancer, in January of 2018. Her loss left me depleted, sad and empty and lonely. And that feeling increased with the years. And many of our Good Shepherd members whom I loved dearly as well joined her in those almost four years since her passing. They were not particularly old, but they had suffered the ravages of homelessness, and poverty, and sometimes serious physical illness, mental illness and or addiction to alcohol or substances. This year alone I presided at three funerals, and I have been there for the consolation of those remaining and of others in mourning, at their sides, where I was asked to be, and where I wanted and needed to be. It seemed to me that I was surrounded with death and loss. The words of Jesus challenged me to be part of the consolation in Matthew 5:4 NIV ” Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted”. Or “Blessed are those who are mourning: they will be consoled” (TIB). The Presence of our loving God was there in the night and did console me. It kept me going when I could have given up. But somehow, the nights and even the days were hard. Sometimes long and hard. Yes, even Pastors and Priests, and maybe especially Pastors and Priests, have times when nothing flows freely and it is like night. Oh we may still do all that is expected of us, but something is missing-it is the joy of life and the joy of salvation. And it is the absence, partial or full, of the essence of life- of love- that gives us cause for joy.

The Scriptures give us words for it: in my Grandmother’s Bible, the KJV, I read Psalm 30:5c: “weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning”…and in the Peshitta translated from the original Aramaic of Jesus: “weeping may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning”. And in the NAB- Psalm 30:6b “At nightfall, weeping enters in, but with the dawn, rejoicing”. And continuing in the NAB, verses 12-13: “You changed my mourning into dancing; you took off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness.” Or The Inclusive Bible by the Priests For Equality: “Then you changed my despair into a dance–you stripped me of my death shroud and clothed me with joy” (Psalm 30:11).

The promise is true: God will provide whatever is needed to turn that despair into dancing. But first we must trust that will happen, and then we must have patience, for it is in God’s time, not always ours, and we must remain in communication with God who is Love and let Love know how we feel. Whether it is sadness or anger or fear, or just emptiness share it with God. Sometimes I did not even have the words for it, and that is from a wordsmith who likes words, but I sat before God without words and God heard my heart. I believe God is listening to your heart too, especially if you are mourning or feel that it is night.

In reflecting on mourning and loss, time may not heal all, but it is a factor. It took me more than three years to open my heart to enjoying the company of others, and more than that to realize that maybe I could love again…and more…maybe I could be loved again. I continued to love and be loved by my Good Shepherd Community and my extended family and that had gotten me through the worst of loss. But something was still missing, something I did not dare even name. And for me, it was then that the miracle happened. There she was, someone to love and be loved by. Now, I was speechless- I am past my mid seventies, and I have been through the best and the worst that Life has to offer. I never even dared think I could begin again. But suddenly I was surrounded by new life, by hope, by someone loving me. And after getting over the sheer shock of it, I embraced it and her with all of my being. And so now I say, thank you God for the miracle of love entering my life when I least expected it. Thank you God for your abiding love. And, dear God, teach me how to love again, better than I have ever done before.

It may come for you in a different way, with the love of family, or friends, a new life born, or new friends or new work, or new experiences, or in a similar way, in the presence of a beloved person, but when it comes you will know it and you can say with the Psalmist: JOY COMES IN THE MORNING-THANKS BE TO GOD! And you will throw off those death clothes and you will be dancing!

This is a poem I wrote for my love about where I was:

In deafening silence                                                             

In endless aloneness

As life ebbed away

Toward another shore

From sheer loneliness and

withering grief

 just going through the

motions of daily life

meeting responsibilities

and dying inside with each

day’s chores and emptiness

caring for the cats,

and the ducks and birds,

the little moorhens, the

big turtles and muscovys,

smiling at them sometimes,

the little joy I had,

the little secrets of creation

still shared with our Loving God,

caring for the people

given me to serve, so,

like Jesus I didn’t lose any one,

using the last drops of fuel to

reach out to the broken,

reaching out to be with friends

scarce as cool days in Florida,

not giving up, determined to hold on,

barely, barely,  by my fingertips, and

laughing at the daily messages about

buying burial insurance and graves,

I carried on,

broken now myself,

yet still feeling the calming

Presence of God,

Who heard the prayers

I could not pray for lack

Of words, who heard my heart,

And still somewhere inside alive,

And needing flesh and blood,

And love,  and love,

I pushed along,

Running on empty,

Until you came.

***************************************************************************************************************

And this is for her:

Woman, woman                                              

Beautiful, strong woman,                                                

Woman loving woman,

Woman like me,

Woman loving me,

woman of faith,

woman of intellect,

woman who dares to hope,

who dares to love, to live,

who loves me….loves me,

by an indescribable

miracle of our loving God,

a miracle of indirection and

longing and yearning,

 and faintest hope,

you were there.  A miracle-

We heard God speaking- we heard Her voice,

Our voices then matched in tone

In sheer quiet intensity,

With fear and hesitance underneath,

and yet

with so few words, and signs,

you took the leap, we took the leap,

you took a chance, we took a chance,

and in the midst of some chaos,

the kind we both produced in our lives

while hoping for more, hoping for love,

You broke through the silence,

You pierced through the emptiness

And you reached my very heart and soul.

Matched by a Loving God wiser than us,

We are matched in soul, in calling,

In thinking, in service, in values, and

In the need to join ourselves in complete

 and glorious union of body and soul,

 before we leave this earth.  

My beloved woman, how perfectly we fit,

How easily we complete each other,

and how that love spills out

to grow the kin-dom of God on earth.

Oh how blessed we are,

 I love you so,

How amazing this is,

And oh, how long we have waited.

Oh, thanks be to God, and to you

You are God’s perfect gift

 to make us fully alive.    

 SELAH, AMEN!

********************************************************************************************

OH Thank you God, You turned my despair into dancing!

So do not despair if you too are mourning, or in a holding pattern, open your heart to our Loving God and wait for the morning when JOY comes again. Then, dance with me.

With Love and Blessings and Hope,

Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, RCWP

Pastor Good Shepherd Ministries of SWFL

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4 responses to “Joy Comes in the Morning-Reflections of a Roman Catholic Woman Priest”

  1. cr1225s says :

    WOW!!! 🧨💕🧨💕

    >

  2. Patricia Byrne says :

    My heart is exploding with thanksgiving! You are God’s great lover of the poor. How could God leave you bereft? I remember the morning breaking in my life and Rich’s also. It is unspeakable. Eph 3:20 has again been fulfilled in your holy life. Love, patricia
    Rumi said,
    “ Lovers do not find each other. They have been inside each other all along!“

  3. Mary Blake says :

    Judy,
    I am incredibly happy for both of you. I wish you, both, eternal love.

  4. EVANGELIZADORASDELOSAPOSTOLESREGRESAN. says :

    Mi querida Judy: Es bellísimo lo que nos compartes, ha sido un dolor y sufrimiento pleno de amor. Que se siente, en el cuerpo. Por algo Jesús dijo: es este mi Cuerpo. No dijo esta es mi espirítu. Amar es de humanos, no de espiritus. Gracias, Judy. Aunque desde lejos, te acompaño. Un abrazo no espiritual, sino con todo lo que soy y tengo.

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