Saturday, April 15, 2017

Cold Tombs

When I was a child, Good Friday was one of my favorite services, with the lights going out throughout the service and the slam of a big book.

As an adult, I have yet to find a satisfying Good Friday service.  The Good Friday service at my current church is interesting, in its way, but it doesn't move me the way I wish it would.  We focus on the 7 last words, and our pastor invites people to offer meditations on the words.  Thus, it is often much too much tied to personal, modern experience, which is valuable--but I'd rather focus on the experience on the cross.

My favorite part of the service was the trio who sung "Beautiful Things," with its key refrain:  "You make beautiful things, you make beautiful things out of dust.  You make beautiful things, you make beautiful things out of us"--evocative!  Here's the link to the group who created the song originally.

Throughout the night I found myself thinking of that time in the garden.  I had read a piece earlier in the day (on Martha Spong's blog?  I can't find it now) about the kiss that Judas gives Christ, and that both men understand its significance--that both men understand it's the last time they'll see each other alive in this particular physical world.  This year, that pain of separation spoke to me.

I had thought I wouldn't do sketching last night, but I really wanted to.  So, I took out my 2 gray markers and one black.  I wasn't sure what I wanted to do, but I had this idea of a tomb.  Earlier, driving home from work, I was thinking about how I had spent much of the time alone on a very quiet hallway, working in the accreditation room. A phrase came to me "the quiet tomb of the classroom," which made me think about tombs and what keeps us entombed. I was thinking about snapping the thin skin between my thumb and forefinger as I closed a binder. That happened on Thursday--I was thinking about Good Friday, and suddenly a poem came to me:  "Good Friday in Binderville" (Binderville has become my shorthand way of referring to all the work that must be done for an accreditation visit).

As I sketched, I was also thinking about the idea of hope, the idea of what brings redemption.  I thought about the Emily Dickinson poem that tells us that hope is a thing with feathers.  Ultimately, I came up with this sketch:

After the service, we stayed to help set up for Easter.  That juxtaposition was also odd.  It was fun to work with people--we started with no preconceived ideas.  Tomorrow, I'll show you what we came up with.

It was strange to be going about our Good Friday activities while various world leaders are making bombastic declarations about who has the biggest weapon and who is not afraid to use it.  We finished our Good Friday by watching the rebroadcast of the News Hour on PBS--how comforting to be watching the commentators Shields and Brooks with my parents.

I have a strange reading plan for the upcoming days.  Before the service I read parts of Henri Nouwen's journals.  I felt a bit of sadness that I hadn't thought to reread Nouwen's Latin America journal during Lent.  So that will be my post-"The Handmaid's Tale" reading--what juxtapositions will I see?  At one point, the problems in Latin America seemed so insurmountable.  I first read this journal in the early years of the post September 11 world, which colored my reading.  What will I see in this reading?

So here we are, at the strange Saturday between Good Friday and Easter.  In many ways, it is so much like the rest of life:  resurrection is on the way, but we're not there yet.  Redemption waits in a cold tomb that will soon be empty.

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