March 27, 2009

Emmaus Walk / Debra Tomaselli

‘Abba, Father, I put my life in your hands’

Debra TomaselliYears ago, frustrated with my life because it wasn’t happening the way I wanted it to, I found answers in an unexpected stop for a Good Friday liturgy at my parish.

Although it had been years since I had attended Lenten services, I flirted with the idea of going to church on Good Friday.

Each time that the thought surfaced, however, I dismissed it. After all, my husband and I had plans to take the kids out for pizza, and I wasn’t going to disrupt our agenda.

But that night, as we were on our way to the pizzeria, I noticed the packed parking lot at our church, which was along our route, and it beckoned me.

Although it was late, the kids were hungry, and the service was well under way, I insisted that we stop.

We found space on the grass and parked the car. I carried the baby on my hip while Joe held our preschoolers’ hands. Amid mild protests, we rushed across the darkened parking lot and slipped into the back door of the church.

A few empty seats remained, and we slid into them, blanketed by the reverence of the congregation. The church lights were dimmed, and radiance surrounded the

life-sized crucifix on the altar, now draped in red cloth. I bowed my head in penitential prayer.

I remember nothing more than gliding into the worship of the assembly, but the song we sang moments later still resonates today: “Abba, Father, I put my life in your hands.”

Sitting in the back of that church, repeating that refrain, I was able to release my fears, doubts, anger, resentments and judgments. I realized, perhaps for the first time, that it wasn’t my life, but his life within me, that mattered.

I’ll never forget that day.

Maybe you were in that congregation. You showed me that we are not alone in the journey.

Perhaps you didn’t know what it meant to me to be able to join you in worship, but it was life-changing. Maybe we can give this gift to others.

Perhaps, this year, we’ll participate in a service that lifts another soul from the tarmac into the heavenly realms. Only God knows.

“Abba, Father, I put my life in your hands.”

I finally meant it.

“Abba, Father, I put my life in your hands.”

I’m trying to live it.

(Debra Tomaselli lives in Altamonte Springs, Fla. Her column appears in several diocesan newspapers. Her e-mail address is †

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