So, it's here, Good Friday, itself a paradox, looking like a contradiction. With all its bloody, thorny, dark, shameful and guilty historical narratives, those we hear each year in congregations, it is called Good.
Yesterday we somehow decided against all our ditherings to brave the storm to go to Mass. Once we settled ourselves in the pew, I was glad that we made that decision. One sight of the statues covered under dark purple drapes convinced me so. Being Catholic I was of course aware of the solemnity of these last three days of the Holy Week, still I felt it was the first instant that I was reminded that it was Holy Thursday, that in a moment the space will be filled with incense, songs (how I wish it would be chants), bells, prayers...the priests will take off his "outer garments," and tie a towel around his waist, kneel down before twelve men seated on chairs, and one by one wash their feet; and that at the end of the "service", the doors of the tabernacle will fling open like extended wings, showing the emptiness within, and the priest will process through the congregation holding the Eucharist in his arms like a precious baby, the gesture that moved me to tears a few years ago when I was on the verge of conversion...Familiar rituals, yet always a surprise. So much paradoxes.
To me, Holy Thursday evening Mass is one of the most memory-packed, intensely emotional happenings. I had to swallow hard in order not to present myself for communion in a state of teary mess. Just a few days ago Ree Drummond, AKA Pioneer Woman, a non-Catholic, wrote on her blog about how she cried every time she stepped in a Roman Catholic Church. Something utterly mysterious overwhelmed her soul, many of her readers echoed the phenomenon. I wondered what if she had attended the liturgies of these last three days of the Holy Week, properly and lovingly done, would she have been able to stop weeping? So much history, so much remembrance, so complex the emotions, so timeless and so human.
I've had thick thoughts in my head but I refrained (or time-strained) from writing, these last few days. The onset of the Triduum, and anxiety of knowing how I had let my Lenten exercises lapse in free-fall, made me feel near-unredeemable.
My husband used to broadcast a piece of wisdom to whomever inclined to hear: "It's not how bad you fall, it's how you get up again, GRACEFULLY, matters." As I fretted over my own failings, I thought of that.
And I thought of how even a bloody gangster can be forgiven on deathbed if he asked for mercy, and I thought of somewhere, I had heard it said that each moment of our lives has the seed of renewal, the potential to be redeemed, and I even thought of T. S. Elliot's riddle-like bits on "time past and time present," "if all time is eternally present, all time is unredeemable," not that I understand the riddle, but it does touch on the notion of redemption.
Redemption is a big word, a big concept. But each moment is full of its own crises, big, medium, small, worthy of the dump or redemption.
Once I understood and remembered that, and the nature of my own crises, I was able to move and act.
The result of all that, is that I HAVE DECIDED TO MAKE SOME HOT CROSS BUNS.
We shall see the fruit of it.
Sorry for that sharp turn, but I smell the buns in the oven. I'd better pay attention to what's going in the oven.
Just in case I don't see you before Easter, Happy Easter!