• Sarah Raad


When Christ was lost for three days, it was just Our Blessed Mother and Saint Joseph – just the two of them – searching for their GOD!

The Virgin and Saint John the Evangelist (Jacob Cornelisz van Oostsanen)

In the years before the COVID-19 pandemic – and all its associated restrictions – my children and I participated in the City2Surf. Now I am not a fit person. In fact, I am sort of allergic to exercise because I find it incredibly boring and I am incredibly lazy – but I do enjoy a nice walk outside in the sunshine!

On the City2Surf, I would push a stroller loaded up with at least one child and a whole bunch of snacks and we would just take our time. We would meander along at the back of the pack barely keeping ahead of the police escort that was following the participants to reopen the roads after the participants had finished the course.

It would always be a long and slow morning for us. The children sort of love it and sort of hate it at the same time. After all, it is a very long way to walk (almost 15 kilometres), and the walk itself is quite unpleasant, as there are many hills to climb up and the course is mapped to avoid the resulting downhills. But the atmosphere is wonderful, and strangers cheer you on – and you cheer for them – as they run past!

The last time we participated in the City2Surf, most of the family joined in. My Mum even walked along (faster than we were) and finished the race with a flourish.

But the last time we participated – right there at the finish line, there was one little problem… During the last 100 metres of the race, my second child wanted to run through the finish line. The poor kid had walked the whole race because I could not go any faster, so I did not see any great harm in allowing him to run up ahead of me to the finish line.

But then, as I crossed over the line myself, I looked for him – and I could not find him!

At first, I called out his name. But he did not answer.

Then I ran backwards and forwards across the line shouting for him. And still I heard nothing.

Then I looked around at all the hundreds of people still swarming the area and I panicked….

Where was my child? What had I done? How could I have been so irresponsible? Maybe someone stole him in the minute I was not paying attention? How did I allow this to happen? What happens if I cannot find him again? God help me, what will I ever do without him?

And that was when I really started yelling.

Now, my poor neighbours will tell you that I have a very loud voice indeed, but that day, I yelled more loudly than I have ever yelled in all my life. The volunteer marshals heard me – how could they help it – and they came forward, “Tell us what he looks like,” they said to me. “Go to lost children and report him.”

So up I went to the lost children pavilion. But there was a queue and paperwork to complete and every minute was taking me further away from that child and so I ran back down (the other two children following and almost completely disregarded) shouting and screaming and yelling for that child who was lost.

I ran that final 100 metres of the race 10 or 11 times – I would have run it a hundred more without feeling anything – and I shouted my son’s name over and over at the top of my lungs.

Finally – right there where he was supposed to be waiting for me at the finish line itself, off to the left and quite by chance – I found him.

There he was – my little boy – standing quietly next to a race marshal, waiting for me. And when I saw him, I hugged him so tightly and I cried and cried and cried and cried. In fact, it is one of the very few times in my life where I could not stop my tears.

Later my son told me that he was afraid to come close to me when I found him because he did not recognise me because he had never seen me looking like that before.

Now, my son was lost for less than 20 minutes, and during that time, my heart broke and I was unrecognisably consumed with grief and fear.

Our Blessed Mother lost Her Son – GOD – for three days. For three days she searched for Him. And for Her there were no race marshals to help her. There was no lost children pavilion. There was just Saint Joseph…

Just the two of them – searching for their GOD!

I wonder often when I reflect on that scene – did Our Lady yell? Did she not care who heard Her or how crazy She looked? Did She sleep on those nights between when He was lost and when He was found? Did She eat anything? Did She cry? Was she short with Saint Joseph? Did he leave Her alone, or did he pray with Her? Did they talk, or was there silence? Did they split up or stick together in their search? What were Her prayers during those three long days – She who is without sin?

For She loved GOD perfectly and She trusted in Him and He allowed Himself to be lost to even one such as She! How awful a feeling to lose GOD Himself.

But she endured it – in this too she had some share in her Son’s suffering – though she did not redeem us – for Her Son is God. And if I was consumed by grief to lose my child for a few minutes – what must be the terrible grief of God to lose a precious soul for all eternity.

And when I think of this grief of God and the grief of His Mother, all other grief fades away, and again I cry. I cry and I cry and I cry – tears without end – to think of the endless grief of my Beloved, for every soul that is lost…

For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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