From weeping to joy, by artist Millicent Arlene Smith, Pittsburgh

But Jesus turned to them

Luke 23:27-28 A large crowd trailed behind, including many grief-stricken women. But Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, don’t weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. … Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest (Psalm 126:5-6).

Station 4: Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem

Millicent says of her artwork:

I made the women in white silk to show tears. They are together, witnessing the same scene, yet each individually bears her own grief. Isaiah 53 says Jesus bears our griefs and carries our sorrows.

Here is a recent example of Jesus noticing my tears and turning to care for me:

On the evening of Sunday, December 11, 2022, my downtown apartment building was on fire. I walked down the fire escape with two elderly ladies and when we got outside, we could see the flames shooting out the windows of one of the apartments. As I stood at the corner, a stranger, slightly inebriated, kept patting my shoulders and asking if I was okay. I said yes and then he said to me, “I’m not a religious person, but I think we should pray.” He cupped his hands and held them out to me. He waited for me to take hold of his hands, which I did. I thought he was going to start praying but realized he was waiting for me to pray. I prayed for the safety of all who were involved in the fire. After thanking this stranger, I walked away thanking God for sending me an Angel who helped me get centered on what was needed at that moment.

Because we weren’t allowed back into the apartment building due to water damage, I was given a choice to call a friend or family member to come get me, or sleep on a cot in the Convention Center. I prayed and asked God to give me a name to call. I called my friends who live on the Northside, and even though it was 12:45 a.m., the husband came to get me while his wife made up the couch. I stayed with them for two nights. When I found out I still couldn’t get into the apartment building on the third day, another friend said I could stay with her. She offered me her bed while she slept on the floor.

On Wednesday, December 14th, the landlord sent those tenants who still had no place to stay to a hotel on the Northside. I was able to stay at the hotel for several night until the apartment building manager came to the hotel to inform us that Tuesday, December 20th, would be the last night they would pay for us to stay at the hotel. We were also informed that we could not go back to the apartment building to live, because all leases were cancelled. On December 21st, a third friend extended hospitality to me. I stayed with her and her husband until I was ready to move.

The next day I looked at an apartment a few blocks from church and filled out an application. While waiting for approval, I received my security deposit in the mail along with December’s rent, prorated. That evening I got word that my application was approved, and the apartment was mine. I was able to use the check I had just received that afternoon as my security deposit for the new apartment. On Friday, December 30th, I moved into my new home. Prayer and praise turned a devastating situation into an experience of joy.

Note: This article was originally published in The Ascent, a monthly publication of Church of the Ascension, Pittsburgh. Used with Millicent’s permission.

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