For RC Kids, Holy Thursday is the day of The Last Supper. With the weight of what He was about to endure in the next day on His shoulders, JC gathered His friends together. This was his last chance to be with the people He loved. JC knew He didn’t have long left with his friends, but they didn’t know they didn’t have long left with Him. They had a nice dinner, and then he went to the garden for some quiet contemplation. And while the godly part of him knew that what was about to happen was His destiny, the human part must have been freaking out. So, he asked his friends to come with him to support him.
Sometimes, the words “Please help me” don’t sound quite like that. Sometimes they sound like, “Want to go outside for a bit?” Sometimes they sound like “Can we just pick up dinner tonight” or “Are you doing anything tomorrow afternoon” or “It’s OK that you forgot.” For JC that night, they sounded like “Please stay awake with me”.
When “Please help me” comes in different words, they are often not heard.
That night, JC’s friends did not hear them. It’s easy to look at these things after the fact and see what the words actually meant, but in the moment, you don’t hear the desperation or hurt or fear.
A few years ago, I was printing some papers at work, and someone else’s print jobs got mixed into mine. There was a graphic that said “In case of Dementors”. The girl who printed it showed up as I was separating her things from mine, and looked slightly chagrinned that I caught her. As a Potterhead, I had to know. She said that it was a chocolate bar wrapper, and she was making them for her friends as part of a mental health thing she was doing.
For the not-Potterheads in the crowd, in the Harry Potter books/movies, a dementor is (according to the unequalled JKR) “… among the foulest creatures that walk this earth. They infest the darkest, filthiest places, they glory in decay and despair, they drain peace hope and happiness out of the air around them. Get too close to a Dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked out of you.”
Dementors are used in the stories a wizarding form of capital punishment – the dementor’s kiss sucks out your soul. But, when dark forces control them, they’re often used as mercenaries. In the stories, the way to recover and fortify yourself after an encounter, is by eating chocolate. As Professor Lupin says, “It helps”. The characters in the story that fight the forces of dark magic have a charm that they can cast that will also repel the dementors. It’s called the Patronus Charm, and it can take the form a silvery vapoury-based animal that chases away the dementor and protects the charm caster.
But, back to the printer, with us.
My clandestine printer accomplice was wrapping chocolate so that when her friends were facing their personal dementors, they would have something to comfort them. They would know that she cared, even if she didn’t hear their exact need at the time.
This Lent, when others are facing dark times, may I be a light – may I be a Patronus, not a dementor. May I be a better companion when I’m invited to share someone’s journey. This Lent, may I stay awake when someone needs me to stay with them.