Saturday, March 31, 2018

The Manger and the Tomb

I've been thinking about the tomb, mainly because I plan to write a poem in the voice of the tomb.  I feel like I know that tombs in the time of Jesus would have been more like caves, and not caves that were carved out for the sake of being a tomb, but structures that already existed.

I'm also thinking about the stable and the manger--here too, we've been told that it wouldn't have been a stable like the kind we might find on farms in the U.S., the kind of stable with haylofts and feed troughs.  The stable, too, was more likely to be more like a cave than the wooden structures that many of us associate with the Christmas story.

Yesterday at the noon Tenebrae service, I thought about coming full circle--the baby in the manger in the cave of a stable is laid to rest in a cave of a tomb.  I thought about all the life-in-death and death-in-life situations in which so many of us wait.

Today on this Saturday, the day before Easter, we wait.  We are lucky, some of us.  We wait for the end of the Easter story that we already know.  We have heard the Good News that He is risen.

Some of us will go to Easter vigils.  Some of us will bake bunny cakes or create unicorn frappucino drinks.  Some of us will go to choir rehearsal, while others are preparing the property for Easter.  Some of us wish we had a new Easter outfit.

Some of us are marked by cinders and can't imagine how new life can rise out of the ashes.  Maybe we go through the movements anyway.  Maybe we transform our sorrow into some sort of quest:  for justice, for change, for a better vision of the world.

It's been interesting to participate in Holy Week with the news stories of shootings--the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shootings and the police shootings--always in my mind.  I am haunted by the juxtaposition of the women weeping at the cross with the news stories of immigrant families ripped apart both in the U.S. and elsewhere.  I cannot see how we move forward, but it feels so important to both move forward and move carefully.  We seem just steps away from complete self-immolation as a society.

Christ's passage from the cross to Easter morning is a promise to us all, even if we're unsure of the process.  God can take the most profound ugliness and transform it into a thing of beauty.

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