I met Marie ten years ago. I would have told you then that I entered the church to escape the summer heat. The truth is I was searching for something more. I had traveled from one doctor to another to find an elusive cure for my progressive hearing loss. I guess I wanted to check out what the greatest healer who ever lived had to offer.
Marie approached me after mass ended and asked if I would help her lead the parish in the rosary. When I told her I did not know how, she said she would teach me. When I told her I was not Catholic, she replied that it did not matter.
I wonder what she would have said had I told her I did not know if I believed in a God that could allow me to become deaf.
I kind of think Marie would have understood as she also had a profound hearing loss. For the next two years, until she entered a nursing home, I helped Marie lead the rosary every week day morning. I learned to count to five after each recitation so I would not talk over other voices. She was a good teacher.
I look back at the time I spent in meditation and realize what I did not know at the time – the healing process had begun. I was moving from the stage of “acting as if I could hear’’ into one of “grieving the loss”. I would often sit after mass ended and stare at the surroundings around me. The crucifix dominated the altar and was a constant reminder of suffering in life. I shed a lot of tears over my hearing loss, but they would soon stop flowing as my eyes gazed again on the cross. My suffering paled in comparison. I would then start to ponder over the mystery of what Christ’s suffering was all about.
I’m still not sure why God allows suffering, but I have moved on into a stage of acceptance. I do not attend mass daily now, but I carry with me always the image of the cross, as well as a belief, that the Christ who suffered, understood my pain.
(A reprint of an article I wrote 20 years ago, when I was the founding President of ALDA-Suncoast of Florida, a support group for people who have become deaf. The article appeared in the newsletter, ALDA-Sun. At the time, I was going back to school to change professions from being a foreign language teacher to becoming a mental health counselor.)