He Walked Beside Me

Do you think he would ever really leave you? - words on background basket weaveI was doing a very ordinary task: washing clothes for the Apostles. I was almost done, and the basket was very heavy.

“Can I help you with that?”

I turned to see who spoke, and a handsome stranger was smiling at me. Rather than speak to him, I simply handed him the basket since my shoulders ached and I was exhausted by the hot sun. Relieved of the burden, I suddenly recalled something Jesus once said: “My yoke is easy; my burden light.”

“You’re smiling at something,” he said, and without thinking, I began speaking to the stranger, something proper women never do. For some reason, I felt at ease as we walked up the dirt path.

“I was remembering Jesus,” I replied softly. “My burdens always felt lighter when he was around. I felt I could handle whatever life brought.”

“Do you think he would ever really leave you?” the man asked. I pondered that silently. After a few moments, he probed, “Weren’t you one of the women at the Cross, and again at the tomb?”

Had he seen me there? Yes, I was among the women who trekked close to 70 miles from Galilee to stay with him, following and offering what support we could. I watched him enter Jerusalem in a parade-like procession, and I danced.

I danced.

Many women stood at the Cross and later followed Joseph of Arimathea to the tomb. We collected some wildflowers along the way and placed them on Jesus’ body before he was wrapped in the shroud. We saw how Jesus’ body was placed. I felt protective and wanted to properly anoint Jesus’ body after the Sabbath. It was a sober Sabbath: praying, consoling each other, and discussing which of Jesus’ lessons held the most meaning for each of us. For me it was: “Love God. Love people.”

“Do you think he would ever really leave you?” the stranger repeated.

I knew death was not the end. I remembered Easter’s daybreak, the smell of the damp grasses, the sleepy sky, and the way my heart almost stopped when I saw those terrifying beings. They were larger than ordinary men, exuding strength nothing like the quaint picture I had of angels.

“They asked why we were looking for the living among the dead,” I said, and as I heard myself say that aloud, a new thought occurred to me. “While I was wringing out the clothes, I was rehashing my past, as if I was going to find life in old mistakes. I’ve been searching for something life-giving among dead things.” No wonder my shoulders ached.

“I love that about you,” he said, smiling. “You listen to my promptings in your heart.”

It was only then that I noticed that the hands holding my basket were those of someone crucified. A leap of shock and joy shot through my body. And when he said my name, I melted. “You took a terrible risk to stay with me at the Cross,” he said. “You offered me the gift of accompaniment.”

“I would do it again,” I said.

“You will,” he said with a loving smile, putting the basket down at the door. I turned to open it, and he was gone. But my heart felt lighter than a feather, my strength renewed. There are so many other stories… (John 21:25).

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Loretta Pehanich
Loretta Pehanich is a Catholic freelance writer and the author of 2022: A Book of Grace-Filled Days, Women in Conversation: Stand Up!, and Fleeting Moments: Praying When You Are Too Busy. A spiritual director since 2012, Loretta is trained in giving the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Her involvement in ministry and parish life includes 20 years in small faith-sharing groups and Christian Life Community. Loretta gives retreats and presentations on prayer and women’s spirituality and is commissioned as an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist. She and her husband Steve have four children and 10 grandchildren.


  1. This is so beautiful…of course, I cried. I love your writing, especially as imaginative prayer is so hard for me. Thank you !

  2. Thank you Loretta for helping me to take a step back and reflect on the yoke that we carry. It only becomes heavy when we aren’t willing to give it to Jesus.

  3. YOU have such a gift of encouraging us to find meaningful connections between the Divine and mundane things in life. If only we could always LISTEN to the promptings of Jesus in our hearts…

  4. Stumbled upon this sharing on Easter Monday morning 2019. Thank you! Needed it badly, having doubts about my marriage of 24 years..
    “I have been hoping to find something life giving among dead things”
    Turning back to Jesus to help me

  5. Like all the other comments. Thank you. Beautiful.
    What a gift you have. That short story touched me.
    Gave me so much peace. Xx

  6. Loretta,
    What a lovely imaginative prayer! I felt myself immersed in the scene and didn’t want the reflection to end! St. Ignatius is smiling. Please keep using your wonderful gift! AMDG!

  7. I adjusted this reflection to share with a group of 15. It was deeply appreciated and I thank you so much for sharing this.

  8. Beautiful! Time to stop rehashing the old (been doing this for too long!) — let us bring in the new! Christ is Risen — Alleluia!

  9. I too have been looking for something life-giving in a place that had once been so, but is not now. It’s time to leave dead things…or places behind.

  10. What a beautiful way you have of giving a powerful message and I thank you for it. I also was touched and awakened by, “I was rehashing my past, as if I was going to find life in old mistakes. I’ve been searching for something life-giving among dead things.” I hope in future I can stop myself when I realise I am doing this.

    • Jesus, prevent us from crawling back into the open tomb, where we wallow in regrets and broken relationships. These are not your plan for us.

  11. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story. We are never alone, Jesus is always with us, even now late at night as I fold my laundry and read this.

    • I can imagine Jesus smiling at you in your laundryroom, and welcoming those quiet moments alone with you.

    • I need to hear it every day!
      Jesus asks me again today, “Loretta, why are you looking for the living one among the dead?”

  12. Wow! You are surely blessed — I ended up reading your contribution several times –it is so well done.
    Your children and grandchildren are so lucky to have you.

    • The past can creep up on us like weeds after a rain.
      Let’s keep letting the resurrection joy take charge.

  13. I love this line, “I was rehashing my past, as if I was going to find life in old mistakes. I’ve been searching for something life-giving among dead things.”
    Beautiful. Thank you.


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