Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday

Good Friday is an odd sort of day to encounter, when you're having a year in which you've boldly declared that this year the thing you're giving up for Lent is in fact the practice of Lent.

It's odder still when you in fact gave up Lent because it had become a grinding obligation - a continual and unending suffering, with no room for feasting or joy.

I woke this morning, and stood in the shower (the place where I do some of my best thinking and praying) and pondered.

For the last several years, I've lived the Lenten season as a reflection of life.  My life seemed to only carry suffering, there was little love or joy in my faith, and Lent seemed a perfect fit for that - a season of fasting, suffering, denial, preparation.  A season that moves inexorably towards this day that we mark the crucifixion, the death of a savior.  Easter had become a sort of afterthought - an "oh yes, and there was resurrection," but I was stuck on that Friday, stuck in death and pain and anguish.  I lived out my days and months and years in a Friday mindset.

And this year I declared that enough was enough.  I wasn't going to encourage my natural proclivity for suffering and angst.  Lent moved quickly, this year, with an awareness of the coming of Easter, but not the weighing, dragging of days that it has had for the past several.

I read somewhere that Christians are Easter people, living in a Good Friday world.  I was just a Good Friday person most of the time.

And so I found myself pondering in the shower this morning, feeling almost offended that a day had arrived that demanded my attention focus, at least for a time again, on the suffering.  How dare I be forced to think about that?

And yet, if I can't, if I can't pause and recognize this suffering that has been marked for my healing, what good am I?  How can I be an Easter person, if I can't also see and empathize with a Good Friday world? If I close my eyes and cloister myself in my own controlled world?

I become useless cloistered away in that fashion, and I wither.  And, the reality that these last years have so clearly taught is this - I can't control even my own world, my own desire to avoid personal suffering.

And so today I'm pausing.

I paused through an hour long Tenebrae service - a carefully constructed meditation on shadows, with roots in the fourth century.  I walked in silence from the church, with the others in attendance.  The solemnity that follows the removal of Christ, his laying in the tomb.  The entrance to the days between.

And I'm pondering.

I have learned that being a Good Friday person isn't healthy, and I'm working to learn what it is to be that Easter person, while still carrying great empathy and compassion for a Good Friday world.  I'm learning what it is to exist in those Good Friday moments, without them becoming overpowering.

And I'm thinking about my one word for the year.  Heal.

I'm recognizing that without a Good Friday moment, that healing would not be mine.

And so I wait, today, for resurrection Sunday.


christianne said...

I have learned that being a Good Friday person isn't healthy, and I'm working to learn what it is to be that Easter person, while still carrying great empathy and compassion for a Good Friday world.

This is such a powerful thought, Lisa. You have summed up well, I think, what it's all about: the faith journey. This speaks to what my heart is about on my nonviolence blog ... being people full of hope but carrying great empathy and compassion for those hurting, suffering, or completely uprooted. Thanks for that.

Lisa said...

mmm... I like that this is your heart on the non-violence blog.

And yes, a people of hope, but with deep empathy and compassion for the broken people and world.

Someday in the future I hope, you and I can have a conversation about some of these thoughts over a mug of tea...

renee altson said...

the tenebrae service is my favorite. probably because i've been a good friday girl, too. (oh, and psalm 88!)

thank you for these powerful thoughts.

Lisa said...

I love that you've actually experienced Tenebrae, Renee! Almost no one I've met has ever heard of it. I had to look up Psalm 88, but yeah, totally fits too.

sending you hugs this weekend.

christianne said...

Um, yeah. I'm totally down for that mug of tea and conversation.

And what is Tenebrae?? Is that like a Taize service?

Daughter of the King said...

LOVE LOVE LOVE this post

Lisa said...

A. - :D

Christianne, definitely tea and conversation at some point then :)

And, Tenebrae is quite similar to the service with the snuffing of candles that you described on your non-violence blog. It's a service that originated in the fourth century. The word is Latin, and simply means shadows, so it's basically an hour long journey to darkness. Each of the seven candles represents a shadow, and as you walk (with narration, scripture readings, music and drama in our case) through the crucifixion narrative, the light grows less, until ultimately the Christ candle, with the last shadow is carried out (not snuffed, but removed for a time). The shadows are, The Shadow of Betrayal, The Shadow of Desertion, The Shadow of an Unshared Vigil, The Shadow of Accusation, The Shadow of Crucifixion, The Shadow of Death, and the Shadow of the Tomb. It's an incredibly powerful auditory and visual mediation on the crucifixion and suffering and death of Christ. My dad (the pastor at the church I always attend for Good Friday) always instructs the congregants that to fully absorb it, after the Christ candle leaves, they should just leave, silently. Don't visit, don't talk, just follow the candle out, walk to your car, and go. It's an incredibly solemn and unique experience. I suspect you'd really appreciate it. One of my favorite parts of the symbolism is that it continues through to Easter Sunday, when the first thing that happens in that service is that the Christ candle is carried back in, and then the celebration of resurrection begins!

Jenny said...

Great post. Thanks for the explanation of Tenebrae. I'd like to go to one of those next year if I can find one. The symbolism is very powerful.
It's sad that low churches have thrown out so much of this which is so powerful and meaningful. Instead, people struggle to develop new symbols, try to be all creative, when there's so much rich history to draw upon. Babies and bathwater...

Haven't really marked Easter at all this year, which feels bad. It seemed to sneak up, life has been so hectic and at times difficult. Stop the world, I wanna get off!

Thanks again.

Lisa said...

Jenny - I hope you can find a Tenebrae service next year.

In the meantime, praying for some time to pause and reflect over the next day or so, even if only for a few minutes.

Blessings to you!

christianne said...

Oh yeah, totally loving what Tenebrae sounds like. Thanks for sharing. I love when churches observe the solemnity of these two days, not just the celebration of Easter. I think there's so much in Good Friday and the day after that teach us about our hearts and need for God's grace.

Lisa said...

Agreed... I think somehow Easter becomes richer if we pause in the solemnity of Friday and Saturday.