Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Looking Back on Holy Week

So, we're in the full swing of the Octave of Easter ("It's an eight-day party!" says the Catholic Church. Who says religion is dull?) and though I can not quite yet fight my way down from this sugar high, I can at least do a bit of dreamy, glucose-induced reflection on the past week. You'll pardon me if I lapse into some sort of hallucinogenic state or a coma. If that happens, I'll just sleep off the Cadbury and try again later.

Holy Week. Hmmm.  Funny how much I've come to take for granted.

A couple of years ago, I chronicled the ways in which this week has changed for me over time. You can find some of those thoughts in Part 1 and Part 2 of Alone At My First Easter Vigil.

The last couple of Lenten seasons for me haven't felt particularly dramatic in any way. I'm pleased by the lack of drama, though. I've lived through plenty-o-drama and most of it wasn't good, so "dull" and  "steady" and "status quo" have more than their share of appeal for me. But "undramatic" doesn't translate to meaningless, unspiritual, or unsatisfying. This year, I found that when I gave things up for Lent, I just seemed to accept that I would do without them, without much inward whining or rebellion, and that felt good.

When I abstained from meat but my mind couldn't shake the picture of a juicy burger, I simply reminded myself that I couldn't have it. When I fasted and my stomach growled, I acknowledged, "Wow, I'm so hungry. I hate to hear my stomach growl," but I didn't eat -- fasting was just the thing to do that day. I don't say this to get some back-patting and admiration for being so disciplined. I'm not particularly disciplined. What I'm trying to say is that this simply felt like grace -- it felt like saying, "Thy Will be done," and then staying out of His way so He could do it.

It felt, too, rather predictable in a way. Also predictable was the fact that something unpredictable would affect me during the Triduum -- the way my pastor was overcome with emotion during his homily, his voice faltering as he spoke of Jesus doing the Father's will in spite of His fear and His desire to have this cup be taken from Him. The way kissing the Cross on Good Friday struck me anew as both perfectly strange and strangely perfect. The way in which witnessing adult baptisms and confirmations made me feel extraordinarily grateful for and happy about water and oil and the stuff of this earth. The way the hypnotic, pumping rhythm of Veni Sancte Spiritus entered my bones and my heart, and left my body as breath and salt and tears.

This steady but unpredictable predictability of the liturgical season called to mind something else that is steady and predictable but still of full of surprising and breath-catching beauty, and that is my marriage.

When a relationship lasts many years, a few things happen. Fundamental aspects of the marriage grow not incrementally, but exponentially: unconditional love ... trust ... mutual dependence ... contentment. The excitement of discovery and the drama of the early days give way to a new stirring, one born of promises made and kept. This new exhilaration is the result of the sure knowledge that this other -- this person you once had to meet, date and get to know -- is now a part of you.

Christ is like that.  My love for, trust in, dependence on, and contentment in Him have grown into the fiber of who I am.

He is the Other who is now part of me. He is the One I once had to meet and learn about and get to know. He is the One Who is now simultaneously predictable and thrilling.

He has entered my bones and my heart, my body, my breath, my salt and my tears. He has settled in to stay.

And He has made glad of a predictable life.


Pam said...

Love this. Can I put in a request that you re-post it about Ash Wednesday next year? I won't remember, but I will need it. Just beautiful.

Karen Edmisten said...

Thanks, Pam! I should go post-date it for Ash Wednesday right now. :)

Danae said...

Beautiful analogy! I am thankful for people like you who can take similar thoughts and jumbled observations and put them into beautiful, coherent sentences. A good follow-up for all of your Lenten posts. In case this comment doesn't make sense, this was my reaction, while reading your post: "YEAH! That is what I was thinking, but it didn't sound like that when I was thinking it." :)

Karen Edmisten said...

Aw, thanks, Danae! Glad to hear we're on the same wavelength!