A friend of mine asked today, in a despairing sort of way, if this was an unholy lent. A lent filled, for him, with preparation and rehearsal and worry, a lent filled with paperwork and questions because someone in the family has died.
I wondered about it and I shot off a reply meant to inspire, one full of love. But I didn’t stop thinking about it.
I didn’t stop thinking about it as the death toll rose. As the families all over the world who are missing a person tonight somehow try to reorder the days left to them without this person. The little ones who have to learn so young what it is to have someone torn violently from you. As families cowered in fear, locked their doors, as they prayed or as they cried out in fear and supplication.
As families all over the world bickered about what was for dinner and who has practice when this week and who will pick who up and how all of the schedules and the needs of each person can possibly be met. As families tuck their kids in, and bully them into brushing their teeth and kiss their foreheads, adjust their blankets and close the door on another day (sort of, because at our house they have to get up at least four more times).
Is it holy lived in the midst of preparation? Is there a room somewhere in our churches we have yet to discover? A room that is quiet and warm in the soft afternoon light that maybe contains just a crucifix on the wall, a hand sized image of Christ on the cross and a cushion for our knees? Is there a space that can be found where no one, for once, has one quick question? A space to reorder and regroup, to be able to find again in the midst of what has become an occupation room for our own holy wonder? For our own despair?
Is it holy in the midst of our real lives, with results from primaries rolling in and another new episode of our favorite show to catch up on? Calls to return and clients to chase?
I read a poem today and it made me cry.
It made me wonder why I had made God out to be so mean. It made me wonder what in me has such a hard time with anyone being the boss of me that I would project that even onto God. Don’t get me wrong, I still believe God sent Jesus to die and that it was for me and for you. But I am wondering about the fact that the divine seed of God somehow mingled with the glorious woman things inside of a human. I am wondering if that is how Mary became divine, and if that means that the person God killed was… God. Maybe there was no other way. Maybe he did that for us instead of to us.
In the meantime our Lenten gardens are in full bloom, full of tall grass that is so green, waving gently in an unseen breeze, hiding the tomb for the moment where a white wrapped clothespin lays, behind a small rock.
In the meantime we tire ourselves out in our search for holy, in a world that hurts so badly tonight. In our hearts, we are longing to know the real truth behind this story of resurrection when faced with such death and destruction; our hearts are longing for hope. I have it for you, it has blue eyes and brown hair, it has the sway back gait of a toddler still and is missing teeth. Her name is Avery and she can’t wait for that clothespin to move, for a finger to flick in the dull light, for the clothespin to rise and shake off the death wrap and spices. To step over the flowers and out into the light. She probably believes enough for all of us.
I told my friend that it is still holy in small places, that we have to be on the lookout, eyes wide open, ready to receive these small parcels as they appear, wrapped in frumpy and damaged brown paper, hidden like Easter eggs under shrubs and in the flower beds.
Holy still is the sun shining on a tomb that houses a clothespin man that my seven year old will resurrect in just a few days.
Holy still is the sound of the water running in the sink as the dinner dishes are washed and the children crash around and bicker in the next room; we are all together for another day, a prayer has been answered.
Holy still is the way an old yellow dog follows me around all day, how he lays at my feet and snores and chuffs and dreams. The robes that wait for me to fill them with the holy smoke I will bear at the Great Vigil in not many more days, the love that I bear for you and for the world.
Holy still is every tear cried for every life lost today, every black life, Muslim life, Mexican life, Belgian life. Every. Single. One.
And holy is the way we will care for each other. The ways we will shut out fear and do more love instead and in spite. Holy are all the tears and the songs that waft toward heaven tonight to a God who is probably not having a campfire because he heard it was going to rain.
Tonight he is probably having a beer and sitting in the den, and he’s turned off the news and turned on some old home movies and he has a big tear roll down his cheek every now and again, because maybe he didn’t know how it would be when we changed, when our path suddenly veered straight at him. Maybe, just as I am learning about a God who died for me, he is learning the way that humans grieve, even after all these years of experience, something new.
It is ok to wonder where the holy is, but not ok to wonder permanently. Not ok to give in to that despair and fear. Though a man will carry a cross through a hateful crowd in about three days, though we will sit through the night and wait with his body and blood, a mysterious thing will happen on Saturday night.
My little girl will part the tall grass that hides the tomb from view, and she will roll. the. stone. away.
Because a little child shall lead us, and she is not afraid.
And I love you still.