Today feels like “the day the earth stood still” (which I believe was a movie many years ago that I have no memory of except the title). I sensed that as I awoke to rain and darkness this morning, still holding the events of yesterday and last evening in my heart. I am on retreat and our Good Friday “Entombment Service” was a stark example of the kind of experience I was describing here yesterday. The reading of the Passion from Mark’s gospel in sections of the day (6AM-9AM, 9AM-Noon, etc.), the mournful chanting and the wrapping of the crucifix in the linen cloths as it lay on a table in the middle of the room brought the experience of Jesus’ death present in a most vivid way. It was clear in the slow, personal moments of each one of us moving to venerate the cross that we were grieving. And we will hold that attitude as we move through this last day together.
The mood will change in tonight’s first celebration of The Great Feast of Easter, the Vigil service recounting the movement from death to life. The first psalm of the service cries out: Lord, send out your Spirit and renew the face of the earth! What follows is the narration of our salvation history during which the sense of the light grows and hope returns until the bells ring out and we know Resurrection! Alleluia!
Living in the present moment is especially hard today. It would be much easier to focus on the future as we often do in the times when we would rather be there than in the moment where we find ourselves. But today gives us an opportunity to join ourselves to those people who are waiting for a good outcome of suffering, those who have no assurance that “all will be well” – nothing except their faith to keep them from despair. Here we will explore today the experience of “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary” whom the gospel tells us stayed at the tomb, without hope or reason to do so – just holding the space in reverence and fidelity to Jesus – as love calls us to do in times of great sorrow. We will wait in that “desert” with them, a time that will make all the more joyful our experience of the Resurrection of Christ and perhaps our own rising to fuller life as well.
May it be so with you!
PS: I leave early tomorrow morning for a week-long Wisdom School experience with Cynthia Bourgeault in the mountains of North Carolina. I can’t be sure of internet service there but will connect as I am able, definitely back by Monday 4/13.