Recently, I got very ill for a few days. I lost over 6 pounds in 3 days! I was in such pain with fever one night that I was in tears. That has happened once before in my adult life, and the previous experience actually facilitated an epiphany. In the depths of misery, I realized there are many people in this world who would willingly take some or all of that pain on themselves to give me relief. Just the knowledge that someone would be willing produced a feeling of gratitude that was immensely powerful, and relieving in its own way. I found that this willingness to give up some of one’s own comfort to relieve the suffering of others is part of how I understand the presence of Christ in the souls of all people. I know prayer for others is part of living with awareness of this presence in our own souls. Jesus was constantly uttering prayers for others, and he also knew what it was like to desperately pray to be spared from suffering. So, as I reconnected with these memories in my recent suffering, I thought of the times others have prayed for me, and my gratitude was magnified. When I hear or say, “Christ be with you,” it means, in part, that I hope you know the beauty of both giving and receiving from such willingness.
There is another connection here, which is my awareness of people’s misery in feeling distant from The One we call “God.” I have felt that misery, and the memory of it is part of what drives me to serve those who feel it. My prayer is that the words I write may in some way comfort others with hope and by knowing that they aren’t alone, at the very least. But it is also my prayer that what I write helps facilitate the realization that, no matter how lost anyone feels, we are all already intimately connected with God right now, no matter what we are thinking, feeling, or doing, no matter how distant God seems. In this sense, when I say “Christ be with you,” it is an expression of my hope that you know the mystical truth that Christ is with you.