“We keep this love in a photograph
We made these memories for ourselves
Where our eyes are never closing*
Hearts are never broken
Time’s forever frozen still”
-Ed Sheeran, Photograph
[*ok, technically our eyes are closed in the picture. But everything else applies.]
I love that picture. It was taken while Tyler and I were still dating– long before kids, household chores, and mortgage payments. Back when we were just a couple of college kids listening to music and taking a goofy (if somewhat mushy) selfie. It was snapped with an iPhone and stored in a “Pictures” folder, to be looked at countless times in the days, months, and years that followed.
“So you can keep me inside the pocket of your ripped jeans, holdin’ me closer ’til our eyes meet. You won’t ever be alone. Wait for me to come home”
Of course, when Ed Sheeran sings that his beloved can “keep him” in the form of a photograph until they meet again, it is only an analogy; and there is a bittersweetness to it. When Tyler and I were separated by a few states after we graduated from college, I probably looked at the above picture over a hundred times. While it made me happy to see his face in the picture, it didn’t make me miss him any less—in fact it probably made me miss him even more.
At the end of the day we all know that a picture is only a picture. And the memories a picture brings with it can only go so far.
You Won’t Ever Be Alone
Well last week I happened to hear Photograph on the radio after leaving the adoration chapel, only this time it wasn’t so bittersweet.
As I listened to the now familiar melody, I reflected on the lyrics and on a lifetime of visits to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel— visiting Jesus present in the Eucharist in times of joy, in times of pain, and even just out of a desire to get out of the house with the kids—and the song suddenly took on a different meaning.
“The greatest love story of all time is contained in a tiny white host.” (Fulton Sheen)
“Loving can hurt.”
All the times I visited the chapel and brought Jesus the pain my heart was feeling: through teenage heartbreaks, feelings of longing, feelings of loneliness. “You know it can get hard sometimes.” The Love contained in that tiny white host was there even in the midst of the hurt.
“Loving can heal.”
That tiny white host has brought my life such healing through the years. I don’t expect to know the full extent I have been healed through Jesus’ Presence in the Eucharist until I behold Him face to face in Heaven, but on this side of things, I know that “Loving can heal,” because in my visits to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament I have truly seen how “loving can mend your soul.”
“Time’s forever frozen still.”
The Eucharist that I visit in the adoration chapel on a weekday with my two small children is the same Jesus who died for me on Calvary. It is the same Jesus the Church’s greatest saints bowed before throughout history. He is the same Jesus who was present in the tabernacles of the Churches in the Middle Ages, the same Jesus that faithful soldiers during WWII drew their strength from, and the same Jesus my great-great grandparents received throughout their lifetime. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
“You won’t ever be alone.”
Back when Tyler and I had to do the long-distance thing before we got married, the pictures we had from the times we were together were just as the song says: memories frozen in time that we could visit when we missed each other. But a picture is just a picture.
In the Eucharist, Jesus gives us so much more. He is able to actually deliver what the song can only dream about. His Body, His Blood, His Soul, His Divinity–they are all actually contained in the tiny white host. There we can keep Him closer until our eyes meet in Heaven. And we won’t ever be alone.
“Behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”