I recall Fredrick Buechner's discussion of time and healing (see my blog entry of May 2, 2011): "Maybe the most sacred function of memory is just that: to render the distinction between past, present, and future ultimately meaningless; to enable us at some level of our being to inhabit that same eternity which it is said that God himself inhabits." (Telling Secrets: 34-5)
If the distinction between past, present, and future is meaningless, then I can pray for Mary, the mother of Jesus, when she is with her son dying on the cross. Suddenly, in her attention to Jesus, I see the great motivation that began my healing.
When a parent sees a child suffering she may find herself willing to do anything she can possibly do to end that suffering. And when we begin this new work, we realize that we are making an even greater difference for the offspring of our children. To calm the suffering of those in our presence and to prevent another generation from even knowing this specific kind of suffering, we welcome the pain necessary for transformation.
Of course Mary's presence to Jesus did not allow his suffering to end. He died in her presence. So Mary's and my journey differ there. I am seeing a slow and organic healing take place before my eyes. For Mary, I sense that the joy she experienced seeing her resurrected son matched her anguish at his dying.
What possibilities are there if we pray about the people in the past as well as in the present and the future?