Josh began weeping as soon as we pulled up to Joshua Station. He saw that greeting him at the office was not his mother, but the family who had agreed to care for him and his brother once his mother passed away—something that we all knew could happen any day. The consideration was even made that perhaps the boys shouldn’t go to camp this year. We knew they would be destroyed if she passed while they were gone. Ultimately their mother made the decision that they needed to live lives as close to normal as was possible, so they went.
Though she did eventually pass away, his mother was simply in the hospital receiving treatment when Josh and his brother came home from camp. This update did little to slow the river of tears that began to flow when he thought his worst fear had become a reality.
This moment, like the reality of everyday with Josh and his family, was an invitation into that sacred space where we connect with what it truly means to be human. Those of us who had gotten to know and love this family gathered around Josh and let him know that we were right there with him. We didn’t encourage him to stop crying. We didn’t tell him that his fears had not come true today, so cheer up. We sat with him in the fullness of his sorrow until he was ready to get into the car that would deliver him to his mother’s side.
Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead is a powerful and miraculous story. But the part that most stands out is not the part where Lazarus walks out of the tomb. The part that most stands out and has become one of the most well known lines in Scripture, is “Jesus Wept”. Jesus could have said, “There’s no reason to cry. He will live again.” Instead he accepted the sacred invitation into the truly human experience of sorrow that so filled that moment.
To the best of our ability, we accepted the invitation Josh offered. It was an invitation to step into the sacred space of his vulnerability, his sorrow, his deepest fears. That moment, and the whole story of Josh’s family, still brings many of us to tears today. It was such a difficult season for those of us who knew them and knew the hard road they were traveling. It was painful. It was also beautiful. It was real. It was truly sacred.