By Hosack, Hecht, & Berman
How could he just sit here? Why wasn’t something coming out of his mouth?
Larry had sat outside the Abbott’s office for an hour in the afternoon before he could get himself to knock on the door. Now he was sitting across from the Abbott- but saying nothing. The Abbott could see the suffering etched on Larry’s face; what important words were frozen in his mind? The Abbott told Larry not to worry about the words. They would pray silently together until the right words came. The Abbott’s head bent forward, his eyes closed, and almost immediately was deep in prayer.
Larry couldn’t form even silent words. He was flooded with shame; he was wasting the precious time of this holy man. He watched the Abbott pray thinking of all the monks who depended on him, and on God with simple devotion. Could Larry do the same? At that moment, the Abbott looked up, and Larry was able to let the word “nightmares” leave his mouth before he froze again.
The Abbott smiled gently and nodded at Larry. He could see how hard Larry was working to keep his deep pain inside himself. Well, he had helped others who couldn’t get the words out. For the next thirty meetings he just looked gently at Larry who’s breathing finally became quiet and slow. The words began to come out. “I am waking up terrified. There is this deep male voice saying something too low for me to hear but the sound of it still fills me with dread. Last week I was just hearing this voice- but this week I’ve begun to see this very dark room with one lightbulb in the ceiling. I don’t know where it is. I don’t know if I should try to find out or if I should try to forget?”
“Whether you gain more memories or not is in God’s hands. Trust that God will guide you on this journey you’re on. Whatever you must learn, know that we at the Abbey are with you. Just as you need us, your presence here has been a blessing for us. God knew that your place was here. Right at this time, right now, you are just where God needs you to be. I have something for you. It was given to me at a time of spiritual trouble more than 30 years ago. It is time for me to pass this gift on to you and I pray that it helps you as much as it helped me.”
The Abbott reached into a pocket of his robes. Whatever he was about to give Larry, he kept on his own person. Larry felt overwhelmed that he was about to get something that was so personally meaningful to the Abbott.
The Abbott gave Larry a rosary. He told him to use it to keep track of his prayers to God. Larry gripped the beads tightly. He wanted to thank the Abbott, but no words came out of his mouth. No words were needed; Larry was already looking calmer – the Abbott smiled.
Have you ever been given something to borrow or keep for comfort?
Little children may turn to a favorite toy when they feel anxious. Sport stars may wear their favorite socks to an important game.
If someone you cared about, was nervous about something, what might you offer to provide comfort?