There have been forty days of confessions. It is now time to enter more deeply into the reality of what God chose to do – in order to let God reorder our relationship with God – in order to show us how great is God’s love and how deep God’s mercy and in order to recalibrate so that our human fetish for shame and guilt may be balanced with some surprise of joy.
So a week of darkness, like a tunnel is our pathway now. And it is beautiful. Healing. What is in those dark crevices in the stone walls of the tunnel cave of my life? What projections shall we recoil from? What painful things need we see in our lives so that we may learn a new path?
And then the three great days and the quiet one: Tenebrae, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. In each we will act out in detail what Jesus suffered. We will do what we must do to move the events and their theology from our heads to our bodies.
And Saturday night will turn to Sunday morning when we will shift gears and welcome the happy morning after the long night.
And what of Monday? What of Tuesday? What of Wednesday of Easter Week?
I have a plan for my sabbath week.
On Monday I will go to the Denver Botanical Gardens. There are many beautiful spots in which to physically act out Jesus’ encounter in the Easter Garden with Mary the Magdelene so that my body engages with so much surprise and wonder and joy. (Mark 16: 9 Now after he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene,)
On Tuesday I will go to the market to buy some good fish. I will grill it with friends on an imaginary beach. We will eat it hot, and smothered in butter and fresh dill and imagine what the grilled fish must have smelled like to the disciples who encountered their risen savior cooking fish for their breakfast as a way he chose to re-present himself to them. There will also be fried indian bread and asparagus and almond butter toffee. I want to physically feel the hot, crispy edges of the fish and taste the velvet of herbed butter as a way to make physical a remembrance of Jesus’ joyful reunion with his friends – no guilt, no scolding – only smiles and hot fish after a long Night. (John 21:9 When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. 10Jesus said to them, ‘Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.’ 11So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. 12Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’ Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ because they knew it was the Lord. 13Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.)
On Wednesday I will walk my favorite roads in Denver with Kai. We will watch people on the road and seek to encounter some of them. Kai will sniff them and love on them. Homeless people are stunning conversationalists. I will act out the encounter on the road to Emmaus. What wonder there must have been as they walked that road and encountered joy in their gut so soon after grief and loss! Sixth Avenue with its marvelous shoppers and shops of scented oils, eastern art and paper for art; and I will walk Broadway with its antiques, hookah bars, italian food, art supply shop for a calligraphy project and my favorite bar full of potential friends – wonderful, good, kind atheists – so real – so honest. I will drink deep their questions about my white collar and my black shirt. We will laugh together. (Luke 24: 31Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 32They said to each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us* while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?’ 33That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. 34They were saying, ‘The Lord has risen indeed…)
Holy Week. Three days.
Easter Week Three days.
Six events in Jesus’ life will be acted out in flesh and bone. This is the ying and the yang I so love around this dawning festival day. A balance of grief and joy worked out in my flesh – every bit as physical as spiritual – every bit as present as pious.
How could Easter be written in a poem?
And there was evening,
and there was morning,
the Eternal Day
A day of Thunder. Then
A day of washing.
A day of grief.
A day of waiting and dawning.
A day of wonder.
A day of hospitality.
A day of encounter.