Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Tim and I drove 120 miles so I could hug two people. One is a family member. Aw, family...When there is pain, there is someone to hug you. I know, not everyone has this. My gratitude is tender and full for the blessing of being able to embrace family and to be embraced by them.

Sunday very early (for me), Tim and I went to church 120 miles away from our church and communed with some people we've met before. One of these, their church's priest, has been caring for his wife who is gravely ill with cancer. This dear man spoke of taking up our cross each day and following Christ.

Last summer at family camp, I watched this diminutive priest, in black robe and with curly locks flying, chase and be chased by his young son around their lakeside cabin. Other boys joined in, shouting, laughing. They raced through patches of bright sunlight beyond a dark stand of cedar and fir.

Though we talked about the cross at camp last summer, today in my hard heart I carried its rough reality.

After church, as we headed to our car, a man approached Tim and said he'd noticed our front passenger tire was low. Close inspection showed an embedded screw. Tim pulled a tiny compressor from our trunk and inflated the tire somewhat, while receiving directions to a Chevron station. I leaned on the car in bright sunshine, thankful for being stuck here briefly rather than on the shoulder of I-5. And grateful for my warm coat, still, because winter wasn't letting us off the hook yet. A few cars away, the priest whose wife is ill was saying goodbye to a visiting priest. In friendship, love, and pain the two men embraced. I waved when they saw me, wishing all at once to go say something and also not to intrude.

Tim and I got in the car. He related our route to the service station and started the engine. I looked up to see the diminutive priest, wearing his black robe and a knitted hat, blessing our ailing tire. Climbing out, I thanked him and we embraced. I only know his wife through our daily prayers for her, but I have no doubt she is blessed and a blessing.

Before leaving town, we were able to see once more our family member who is suffering, and I could offer one last hug. Tenderness is an amazing something, softening the heart though it arrives out of the forest of intense pain, a darkened land, in search of sunshine.