Behind the Veil


“And behold, the veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom.”
Matthew 27:51

I and a fellow loss mom (who is a dear friend of mine) often refer to the “veil,” which was lifted the day our daughters were stillborn.  Even though our daughters died almost ten years apart, our personal experiences are so similar.

It can be described as an anointing.  

The Holy Spirit completely saturated the room.  Grace was tangible and all-consuming.  It was a day when heaven met earth, and pain and beauty intermeshed, interwove, and invaded.  It was the paschal mystery revealed, and the hope of heaven on display.  It was the cross, and it was the redemption.  And it was a gift that God met me in my suffering in such a personal and intimate manner because only through His merciful act, was I able to embrace my personal crucifixion that day.

There are times when God allows me to experience the lifting of the veil again—in the consecration of the Eucharist, before the Blessed Sacrament, an intense moment of prayer, or even when remembering and reliving the memories of losing with someone who understands.  When these moments come, my desire for heaven creates a longing to stay in between the veil, but my humanity makes me want to run from it because it is intense and completely overwhelming.

During this fifth week of Lent, Passiontide, when the Church veils the statues, I think of its symbolism and how it relates to my grief, my story, and my loss.  I am hoping this tradition can present tangible reminders for me in these final days of Lent as I unite my cross to the cross of Christ.

HIDING—Just like the many followers of Christ who hid from reality, I often want to hide from my grief.  I want to hide from the world, so people can’t really see or know what is going on inside of me.  I want to hide from my children, my husband, and my friends so they can’t see beyond the surface.  I want to turn my head from the pain, the suffering, and reality of what is taking place in my life.  I feel ashamed, because I do not “suffer well.”  And I want to hide from God because sometimes I don’t want to be open to His will anymore, especially when saying YES to Him meant being open to losing.  I hide.

FOCUS—Veiling the statues forces us to focus on Jesus Christ in these final days of Lent.  I know that in order to heal, I have to look at the source of my suffering.  I have to remember and relive the memories and emotions.  I need to acknowledge the wounds.  I have to embrace my cross, my companion.  There is a purpose for my pain.  I can be encouraged by Jesus’ obedience to the Father’s will and the broken heart of His mother who watched her only Son suffer and die.  I can beg him to heal me, and I can press onward while I wait, encouraged by His agony, scourging, and journey to His crucifixion. I need to stay focused.

VEILED—Another reason that statues are veiled is that no one other than Jesus was able to see what was coming ahead.  Only Jesus knew that the cross yielded death and ultimately resurrection.   His divinity remained hidden.  God kept His plan hidden.  As for me, there was no way to know that during my pregnancy, death lied ahead.  God keeps his ways a mystery from me, and only He knows when my resurrection will occur.   I need to believe in what I cannot see.

Living behind the veil…

To live in a way, fully aware, that there is greatness beyond this earthly life.  A peace surpassing all this pain.  Freedom from this suffering.  More than I can see with my eyes.  More than I can fathom.  More than I can know.  

Through Jesus’ death, the veil was torn.  Jesus, our only way to God the Father.  Jesus became the mediator for us, enabling us to enter the “holy of holies” through him, removing barriers between us and God, and allowing us to gain full access to our Heavenly Father.  Only Jesus can reconcile what was lost.  Only Jesus' wounds can touch mine.  Only Jesus can bring me healing.

Even though the pain unfathomable, I still feel so unbelievably thankful that when my daughter died, I received a glimpse of the veil being lifted.  And even though there was a cost for that glimpse…the cost of her life.  The cost of my sorrow.  The cost of our lives being separated…mine here and her life behind the veil.  It is much like the price Jesus had to pay for me.  And this fact pushes forward toward the hope of a resurrection…whenever that might come.  When I am able to dwell behind the veil for all of eternity. 

Kristen Dunbar