Suicide Prevention Day
Two things fill my thoughts.
My first thoughts are with dear friends who lost their amazing son to suicide eighteen months ago
Without seeming reason, Daniel took his own life.
Regularly it feels that I am hearing the news afresh and I cannot believe it. It cannot beam my heart screams within me.
But it is
To sense the daily pain of Daniel’s loss in the depths of his parent’s hearts has been heart breaking for us.
My thoughts are with them right now
My second thought takes me to Rome.
I am standing beside The Pieta in St. Peter’s Basilica.
My friend, Rab, had spoken to me about it a few years ago. Rab would describe himself as “relatively agnostic but interested in many aspects across religions” so when he shared with me how taken he was with the Pieta I took note.
His wife was investigating the Basilica and Rab kind of drifted over and caught sight of the Pieta.
It is the work of Michelangelo.
A beautiful 15th century sculpture in marble.
The Pieta depicts Mary holding her dead son, Jesus, in her arms.
It moved Rab to tears.
My experience was similar.
We had had a private audience with Pope Francis earlier in the day.
I needed time to surmise that and all the things that he said.
We went through the Vatican Museum and much as it was impressive I was still pondering the events in Pope Francis’ private library.
My wife, Janice went off to marvel at the art and beauty of St. Peter’s.
I was at a loose end and remembered - Rab’s Pieta.
I found Fr Martin and asked him where it was.
He took me over to it
I immediately felt what Rab had felt.
We encouraged Janice over to join us and all three of us stood..
The theologically squeamish might shout, “It is not in the Bible.” No, it is not. That does not mean that between the cross where Mary stood watching her son die and the tomb he was laid in that she didn’t cradle his body.
However, fact is not the point.
This is not theological.
This is artistic.
Whatever the facts, Mary did watch her soon die.
She went through her valley of the shadow.
She experienced that trauma.
Michelangelo expresses that experience of Mary’s…
Janice and I were remembering our dear friends, Daniel’s parents.
It is not the order of things for a parent to cradle their child’s body.
Our friends experienced it. They said that they could have held him forever.
Michelangelo captured their heartache.
Fr Martin knew where our hearts were…
His heart added his own experience of far too many young suicides in west Belfast.
All of our tears, as we stood before The Pieta, were deeply felt.
Fr Martin suggested a prayer and I prayed for my friends and then all the other parents who had experienced what Mary went through.
The love and sorrow that mingles.
Again, this is something of the Gospel story that understands our humanity and our brokenness.
Let us remember those who have taken their own lives
and those they have left behind
and make a contribution towards Prevention.