Thursday, April 28, 2011

Mortality, Spring, and an Update

Been a while. Some stuff has happened: went to Seattle, went to NY, have continued along the path of working part-time...but I think Holy Week has been one of the best moments for me, crazy as it was.

Holy Week was crazy because of several things: I was working full-time rather than part-time because staff was short-handed. I've done it before, but I remembered after this week that I had adopted a little less high-strung approach to the office cluttering up. Cleanliness in the areas nobody goes can wait; cleanliness where cluttering affects efficiency can't. Yeah, took me a week to remember that (much like last time, go figure), so before that realization I was on my feet from the moment I walked in the office til the moment I sat down in my car to go home (well, lunch excluded). That in and of itself is tiring, but hey, millions of people do it, and I've DONE it, so it's not like it's going to break me. What was slightly more taxing was the choir practices and Masses/Service throughout the week. We needed rehearsal, we did well, but going from work to those and standing the whole time...I'll just say my legs were exhausted.

Bright side of the week, though: lots of reflection that I didn't expect to get in the mayhem.

My first was on the nature of how I saw Good Friday. I've been spending a lot of time on really...I don't know, trying to go a little deeper. That's the beauty and the danger of the mysteries: There's always something more to discover, but staying on the same plane for too long leads to stagnation. As Fr. Regis would say, one has to "work the muscle." So after a long hiatus, it was time for a spiritual workout, and Triduum seems to be made for that. I've been having a hard time really processing or even beginning to process the Incarnation. I mean, the mere fact that it happened is mind-blowing, but the reasoning becomes even more difficult to swallow: "To be with you. Let me truly be among my people, let me be born as one of you, let me suffer hardships as one of you, let me grow, learn, and take on your being." Love. Imagine the devastation that Israel suffered in the loss of the Ark and the destruction of the first Temple. The place where God deigned His name might dwell destroyed, the vessel in that structure that held His commandments that was with Israel in its battles...the One God who chose to bring them close to Him, and the vessel where He was truly present in a special way...gone! Those who had hardened hearts perhaps decided when this horrible faith-shattering event occurred that something was bunk, or God was weak, or not really present, or perhaps just not faithful, and left it at that. Others began the profoundly more (initially) difficult process of dialoguing, reading, rediscovering the faith, lamenting their infidelity, calling to God with lamentations...a truly heart-breaking time. Then they were freed from captivity, they could go back to the Temple (which they could rebuild!). Then Alexander came, then the Romans, and jeez, it's easy to feel downtrodden and wondering where God is...and the Ark seemed to be lost forever.
For those who came to believe, I can't imagine how unbelievably beautiful and hard to believe it would be that God would stoop farther than have His Name dwell in a temple or an Ark...that His Word would become human?! To descend to such levels to embrace His people!

So yeah...first thought. Incarnation. This was in my mind as I entered Good Friday. And then in Good Friday's service, I started thinking about mortality. My grandparents certainly have limited years left on the globe. I envisioned my parents dying, which is scary, because I've always envisioned them as invisible. The notion my mom someday (perhaps soon) won't be able to accomplish everything or that my dad (ever young-appearing and relatively unaffected by his diabetes) might not be as able to contain his diabetes as he was really gave me pause. The idea of them not being present to call just to talk put a lump in my throat. Then I envisioned friends...those who are still very much here, those who have died...and the feeling of invincibility that I have, that arrogance of youth that it will last forever regardless of changing roles or years or responsibilities (there is the adage "youth is wasted on the young") vanished. It's mind-boggling, it's terrible, and it can be paralyzing.

The cruel and humiliating execution that was the Crucifixion took on a new dimension. I was able to FEEL a little more. I understood the suffering that was present throughout the day, from Gethsemane and beforehand on Holy Thursday (heck, going into Jerusalem, being baptized...but especially as it drew near) in Jesus' mind. The psychological pain makes me wince at least. Then I think of those who had the courage to stand and watch everything, and the feeling is all the more powerful. And man, someone who didn't have to even suffer chose to do that to BE WITH US THAT WE MIGHT BE WITH HIM?! Hmm...yeah, okay.

As much as I knew that Passion and Resurrection were connected, I viewed them as two discrete events rather than part of the same reality, i.e., God's love. The idea of Redemption becomes much more accessible from that perspective for me when I combine it with what I gather about the Incarnation. God is here. Undeniably. So rather than have what I believe to be misguided focus on the gore of the Crucifixion (though it's tricky, clearly, as the nature of the death emphasizes the extent of the love), I've tried to have more of a focus on the desire behind it. The desire wasn't to cheat the devil and laugh at him in a legalistic loophole, nor perhaps forgive something unforgivable, but to experience man's experience at its most visceral without sinning, able to touch every person and have that touch bring life and communion with God rather than perpetuate death, stagnation, isolation, hate.

It probably makes more sense in my mind's eye than in the blogger format.

Here's the other thought: Spring. It's here. I have been away from a legitimate spring for 5 years, catching the last whiffs of it in my first days back from DC, missing it entirely in Peru, and how I have missed it. Green grass, days of deluge with flowering trees and leafing trees, suns with the smell of freshness permeating everything, nights with moisture in the air and the perfume of flowers wafting down quiet streets. I understand a bit more that I'm not invincible nor immortal nor unchanging, but at the same time, it's amazing to have that surge of absolute joy that hangs in the air of spring and summer for those who deign to listen to it to breathe deep, almost drunk with it, and LIVE. Life is hanging here, tantalizing, pleading that we live it, more clearly than most places I've been, and yet...the number of people both young and old who choose to not grasp it pains me.

"I have come that they may have life and have it in abundance."

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