no darker day
all night i tossed and turned, wondered if i would write how lonely it is. how achingly hard. to be the sole believer in a house i call home.
oh, there are others who believe other things. just no one else who believes what i do.
no one else who spills tears at the thought of the story, deep thought. deeper story, the one of today, the one of good friday, no darker a day.
no one else who came with me to church last night, who stripped off their shoes, stood in line, knelt down to wash the feet of another. no one else who knows what it felt like, how it wrung me right out, the man i don’t know, his deeply brown hands, tenderly, thoroughly, washing my feet.
it is, was, a wholly powerful moment. metaphor, yes. but literal, too. sensual, really. warm water was poured, my bare bumpy feet there in a bowl, a white porcelain bowl. no ceremonial sprinkle and wipe. not this. no.
i could barely look up. couldn’t breathe. all around me, humility loomed. filled the church, right up to the rafters. this church where i went–unlike the one of palm sunday–is a church that i love. it is filled with people of colors, filled with bodies so broken, but spirits that look to be whole.
beaming and grinning and shaking a shaker, the young handsome man strapped to a wheelchair. the boy with the face that is pretty much mangled. the one who was blind. the old lady who only could shuffle, and barely at that. all of them, there. so very there.
for three hours, i think, i was bathed in all of the ritual. the latin, the spanish. the incense, the candles. the bread and the wine. oh, and the song. cello and tambourine. children with bells. and the pouring of water on bare naked skin.
even i, a soul who’s felt not very holy of late, i was pulled right back to the flame deep inside. long long ago, a story was put there. a story i simply believed. over the years, it got jostled around. couldn’t be. yes it could. hmm, i wonder. oh, geez, i don’t know. i don’t even know anymore.
it’s the sad sorry fallout from hours and hours of listening, and hearing the people you love, people whose thinking you trust on all sorts of matters, come down, on this one, on the far side of the fence.
it’s the part of the jewish-catholic equation that isn’t much aired. and sometimes i think that it should be. it might untangle a knot.
there’s the words of the rabbi: you can’t believe it both ways. and the words of the priest: you love the same God. and then there’s me, sometimes lost in the middle.
it’s not likely to happen, perhaps, if you didn’t start out deeply believing. or caring too much. but on both of those scores, i raised my hand.
and that’s where the rub comes: after 20 long years, two-fifths of my life, of listening to scholars who find it all rather unlikely, but even moreso, watching the pain on the face of the man who i love on that long ago sunday of palms, or hearing the words of my firstborn when he says he finds it mostly improbable, my whole core has been shaken and rattled and, sometimes i fear, broken to bits.
i hold onto shards. pray for the blue glowing flame not to go out.
but then, on a night like last night, i go in a church, i take off my shoes and it all floods right back. the whole power and glory of a church that holds up this day, and the ones just before and right after. says, look at this. look how human and horrid and broken we all can be. look how this one single soul was betrayed, was mocked, was beaten, was made to carry a cross. and he died without raising his voice. except to cry out: “Father forgive them. they know not what they do.”
it’s a moment, i swear, to carry me far. it’s a moment i thank holy God for. each year, i come back. and many hours between.
but the hollow deep hole in my chest, when i feel all alone, and not very certain, it makes for some hours of unbearable darkness.
and how uncanny it is that this day, no darker a day on the calendar, somehow is lit from behind. like that sun through the clouds. or a star breaking through in the murk of the night.
it might be, just might be, a soul, after all, that refuses to succumb to the doubt.
perhaps, in the end, that’s what my easter miracle is. the maybe that turns to a yes. the yes that won’t fall to eclipse. do you struggle, when it comes to believing? what brings you home, time and again? is it the power of story, or the break in the clouds? i send you blessings, as we all wait out the darkness, counting on light to come in the dawn.
And blessings in return to you, dearest bam, on this Good Friday. Your description of the foot washing was beyond beautiful … I’ve sat in that seat with my feet in the bowl and it’s a humbling and powerful experience … impossible to keep the tears from falling. I’ve never known anyone that wasn’t deeply and profoundly moved by it.
I am here. I am with you during these blessed and most sacred hours throughout this day of reflection.
The light of the world HAS come………. I don’t really have trouble when it comes to believing………… yes, I am flesh and I do stumble OR fall flat on my face, but through the strength, mercy, grace, of Jesus I am able to get back up and continue………Miracles do happen………nothing is too great for the FatherThank You God for the Resurrection, without it we’d be lost………Happy Easter to all and may you find the peace Christ died for
What brings me home, time and again?The Bible. The amazing story of God restoring man to Himself. It encourages me, sometimes just one phrase from The Book feeds me for days.I need to read the Bible because without it I’ll drift off… into darkness.It’s my heart’s compass.
A break in the clouds comes in the form of the story of Joe Zieman, the pigeon man. Someone who believed that he had something to give to the world even when others doubted. Unusual form but this is what gives me glimmers of light when otherwise only see darkness.
“oh god in your timelessness, let me find the truth of my security.”i’m with you there on the fence, sometimes way down on the one side, and then in other times-clear on the other. but, a wise woman once shared a quote with me…”all i have seen teaches me to trust the creator for all i have not seen.”..r.w. emersonamen.truly i think that our creator would not wish for all this anguish we at times impose upon ourselves in our beliefs. “above all, love one another” that newest commandment washes away colors, religion, restrictions, fear, hate, bigotry and brings upon a world so confined by such things- compassion, benevolence, kindness and love. brighten up dear sweet heart, perhaps you have been made to feel so deeply so that others might deeply feel without fear, only acceptance. pat your feet dry, your tears too- it is the moment of most profound doubt that bring us closer to the center of ourselves-and at that center most certainly is the bluest of eternal flames. peace be with you.
bless you, all of you, on this brightest morning after. the sun on the snow–the spring sun on the seven thousand inches of snow, i might add–seems to be the light maybe i needed. or maybe it was just reading all of you. anon, whoever you are, bless you and thank you. and you who reminds me of joe, pure, powerful, heartfelt joe…..thank you. and the whole pv-az crew. and true….leave it to true to bring me back home. the one simple point on the compass, the one unerring arrow pointing the way. thanks all of you for simply listening, and for putting your hands to the small of my back. today i putter around making easter baskets (shhhh, don’t tell the little people), tomorrow we wake up to a whole new story. what a difference a day makes…..we shuffle on, us and our baby steps, non?