Friday, April 06, 2007

Good Friday reclaimed


I had worked for nearly an hour on a post regarding Good Friday. After checking it and previewing it, I accidentally erased it from the blog. Not fun, but in many ways an epitome of dealing with Holy Week this year. I always look for the treasure, that pearl of great price, that awaits discovery during our common walk through Holy Week and the observation of the Triduum.

Sometimes, it is found in the narrative. Sometimes I discover it in shared time with family, friends or colleague. Sometimes I trip over it in the garden when, out of serendipity, I see an early bloom that takes me into a reverie which seems to make those events of 2000 years ago a reality in both memory and experience.

Sometimes, it is in the managed chaos of experiencing things not as they should be, but as they are.

I have come to that knowledge repeatedly over the past few days.

Wednesday night's Stations was altered by a parishioner collapsing into a seizure. Thanks be to God he is now all right, but for a short time, the liturgy was the reality of keeping him safe, people moving Eucharist into another area of the Church and the anticipation of the arrival of EMT personnel as my parishioners with training did what they knew in order to keep him safe and stable until he could be moved to the ER.Last night, Maundy Thursday, was another moment of acceptance of being out of control of events. The rector, me, messed up the end of the liturgy. What was meant to be a smooth slide to darkness and quiet became a jangling effort to reach the end of the service...simply because I rushed one element into being in our worship before it was meant to come to pass. Ah, the temerity of plans!

Finally, we anticipate the ultimate desertion. Jesus abandoned by all, even us as members of his present Body, to death on the Cross.

Not easy. Never easy.

But there is something to be learned here. Slowing down long enough to note the experience, there is an invitation to embrace the inevitability of dark passages in life. We can't always have it just so. Just right. Sometimes, it might even take our hope away.

Seeing Christ, who moments before was breaking bread and reminding us of the eternity of fellowship we now share in him, taken, beaten, abused, condemned and killed is nothing any of us would choose. And yet, in that light...what new life may arise if death is avoided? True resurrection cannot occur until we close our eyes in death. If nothing else, Good Friday forces us to view that set images again and again.

From those little losses and shames, I get a sense of the greater burden he carried...and that so many member of the human race experience today. The cross lives and exists today, in the Sudan, at Guantanamo Bay, in the halls and cells of the prison culture, beneath bridges and underpasses where the homeless gather for warmth and shelter. Even in our own hearts, when we are awash in depression despair and grief.

My Sunday Associate said it best, when describing a period of personal loss, that she felt the same as Mary did that day...when grief came, it was like a sword stabbing her in the heart.

That wound does close...but it can also open us to a deeper, softer and more profound awareness of our life in Christ...though it may mean being willing to embrace the death as well...

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