Contemporary Crucified Mother and Aunt

The reward for unconditional love is suffering and ‘death’.  It’s a hard pill to swallow.

The lead newspaper story of the Jamaica Gleaner, September 23, 2022, reports on the sentencing of Rushane Barnett.  According to the article, Rushane Barnett and his brother were unemployed and in a financial bind when they telephoned their aunt, Gwendolyn McKnight, for help. Based on the recommendation of McKnight’s sister, she moved Barnett and his brother into her home and helped them to find employment. Rushane bonded well with his cousins. But a year later, McKnight’s generosity became the source of her greatest pain, as Barnett slaughtered McKnight’s eldest daughter and her four grandchildren. 

The depth of McKnight’s emotional pain and grief is captured in the following statement, “To see that she died in such a violent and cruel manner committed by a family member I took in to help was the last thing I expected to happen. . . I do not know when and how I will recover. A part of me died with them. Since her [Kemisha’s] death, I can hardly sleep at night. I am constantly having nightmares, which cause me to cry daily. The expression ‘sorry fi mawga dog and they turn around and bite you’ comes to mind.”

Sometimes we avoid exercising unconditional love because we fear the pain of suffering and death. Sometimes the suffering and death move like molasses in winter in our lives, and other times they happen suddenly…in the twinkling of an eye. 

Gwendolyn McKnight has been crucified and now she lies buried in the dark tomb of grief, lying helpless and lifeless.  Her only hope is to wait for the Spirit who raised Jesus Christ from the dead to raise her from her grief. As she and other crucified mothers and aunts lie in their tombs, we must wait and walk with them in solidarity. That’s what it means to be a synodal church – including the crucified persons to participate in the journey of listening and dialogue, not abandoning them on the margins of their tombs.

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