Yesterday, I walked into Saint John Neumann Catholic Church to go pray in Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament in Exposition. Due to Covid, the small chapel, I’ve posted many pictures of, is closed and the monstrance is on the main altar within the main sanctuary of the Church. As I entered through the main back doors from the narthex, I began to walk down the center aisle. All of a sudden it hit me. I had not been in this church the entirety of this year… and this is the church I was to be married in on May 30th of this year.
As I began to slowly walk down the aisle, I started to look around. My father wasn’t beside me. There were no smiling excited faces on either side filling up the pews. There wasn’t anyone in the pews. There were no bridesmaids that went before me. There were no groomsmen at the front. There were no 5+ priests that I had invited. There was no Todd. I walked slower and slower. It was hard to pick up my feet as I walked down the cold dark aisle–alone. There was “just” Jesus. He was waiting for me. Still, there was hurt and mourning of the loss of what might have been.
I got from the far back, entering the doors, where I’ve watched many brides walk through, to the front end of the aisle. Then I proceeded to collapse on the floor in a puddle of tears. These weren’t quiet weeping tears. These were sobbing hysterics. I felt Jesus say to me, “It’s ok. It’s ok to cry. Feel your feelings, My beloved. Feel your feelings.” It was so hard. I laid on the floor in front of Jesus hanging on the cross and Exposed in the Blessed Sacrament crying and crying. I couldn’t breathe through my nose–it was so stuffed up. Before then, I hadn’t really mourned the loss–not like that. I had not allowed myself to feel and cry out those feelings. The biggest thing for me is mourning what might have been. All the future plans with Todd.
I was there for about 30 minutes off and on in tears and conversation with Jesus, My Lord. Even before the engagement was called off, I started feeling like I was actually called the religious life. So, all this happened yesterday despite me now not feeling like I’m actually supposed to be married at all. Still, it doesn’t matter. The feelings were there and I needed to mourn it.
As I sat on a pew and looked to the Man, Whom I am truly madly deeply in love with, there was still pain. This time last year I had a rose gold morganite with Celtic knots on both sides ring on my left ring finger and now I don’t. I’ve looked at my left hand a lot lately. I may be called to religious life, but it doesn’t mean I completely fell out of love with Todd.
Sitting alone with Jesus, I felt Him say, “Even if it was just you and I together for the rest of your life, wouldn’t that be sufficient?” I love Jesus so much and the thought of being espoused to Him is beyond beautiful to me. Yet, there was an extra sense of loneliness in a church where only a few months earlier this year (without Covid) there would have been hundreds of people sitting there to celebrate with me. To be honest, I almost felt like I was in a tomb. It was silent and dark. There wasn’t the smell of incense filling the air. There wasn’t a schola nor my friends’ singing. There was silence with only the whirring of the air conditioner to fill the church with sound.
I looked to the cross where Jesus’ arms were open in love. The thought struck me of knowing I want to lay down my life every day whatever the struggles are. That I want to offer all my trials and crosses to Christ and unite the pain with His death and given it redemptive value. Despite the extreme emptiness of what would have been in the church, there was a deep sense of beauty in the way that Jesus was in exposition and physically present instead of Todd at the end of the aisle. I literally walked down the aisle to my Beloved yesterday. It brought to mind something a friend said to me years ago as she opened the door to the chapel, “Your Beloved awaits you.” That was so very heavenly engaging.
I ended up leaving the church with a smile on my face. My cup was filled with Christ. It is so healthy to feel, to cry, and to mourn–don’t forget that. …and no better place to do it than with Jesus physically present Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.
+ Pax et Bonum +
Kristen von Clef, OFS