"We forget that church is, and should be, a place where we can let go and let God," writes Sara Jewell. (Illustration by Keith Negley)

Topics: March 2022, UCC in Focus | Opinion

A moment at church allowed me to let go and cry for my mother

I didn't shed a tear when when she was diagnosed, or when we celebrated her 65th birthday two weeks before her surgery


In June 2006, my mother was diagnosed with colon cancer. It was unexpected, as most diagnoses are, and most unwelcome, as most diagnoses are.

The first step of her treatment was surgery to remove the offending tumour. It happened on the Friday before the July long weekend, and I was scheduled to read the scripture at church that Sunday. I had to read the words Jesus spoke to the hemorrhaging woman who touched his robe: “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your disease.” 

As soon as my brain saw that line and connected it with what was going on in my life, and with my mother, I started to cry. I had no control over my thoughts or my tear ducts. I cried through the rest of the reading. No one came to my rescue so I just kept going to the last verse.

Afterwards, people came up to me and thanked me for bringing such raw and honest emotion to the reading. I was mortified, but people thanked me.

We forget that church is, and should be, a place where we can let go and let God. Where we can get emotional, where we can open our minds and our hearts, and express whatever raw and honest emotions come to us.

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I hadn’t cried till then. Not when my mother was diagnosed, not when we celebrated her 65th birthday two weeks before her surgery. 

I could have cried at any time, but no moment cracked me open — until I read that piece of scripture, until I was with my church friends, until I was in that sanctuary.

You can be healed without being cured. You can be whole even if you are falling apart. That happens when you are surrounded by people who love you and care for you, who support you and help you. No matter what you are going through. 


Sara Jewell is a writer in Port Howe, N.S. A version of this piece appears in her new book, Alphabet of Faith (copyright Sara Jewell, published by Woodlake Publishing, 2021, www.woodlake.com). It also appeared in Broadview’s March 2022 issue with the title “Comfort at church.”

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