Thursday, April 9, 2009
Insights in the Darkness
Maundy Thursday is a real mixed bag for me.
On the one hand, its a sobering and solemn night of watching the altar get stripped down to nothing. The chanting of Psalm 22 with the refrain, "They divide my garments among them; they cast lots for my clothing" a constant reminder of Jesus' lament as he died.
And, on the other hand, this is an evening service where we can become linked to our God... through his humanness as Jesus... in a way that is deeply spiritual and meaningful. And that once you strip away all the various faces we put forth to the world and the means we use to divide ourselves from one another, we can see each other more clearly and see in the eyes of the other a spirit of Christ... no matter what body contains those eyes.
I spent a long while in the chapel at St. John's following this service. And the personal transformative experience in that time was amazing. I started my meditation on the obvious: the room was dark, but for some dim lighting and the candle on the altar. And so my mind went to "And a darkness descended over the land..." Sorrow filled my soul... and some of the challenges I feel myself facing about my future began to surface, and that led to a very steady stream of tears. I contemplated questions I have about where I fit in to "the plan", and then reflected on imagery from my blog entry of last year called "Striking A Balance" in which I saw the LGBT community and the Christian community (or faith communities of any kind) traveling on either side of a median, unable to see one another due to shrubs and bushes, and my desire to knock down those barriers, so that this division could end. Tears continued flowing down my cheeks. Until I finally paid attention to my breathing.
And then it hit me: No fear and no regrets.
This was the same phrase I heard in my head the night before my father died, and I sat squeezing his hand in the assisted living facility.
No fear and no regrets about my future. No fear and no regrets about my questions. No fear and no regrets about bridging this gap between queers and Christians. I may suffer ridicule or scorn or rejection. But I should have no fear and no regrets.
The longer I sat with that phrase, the more I could feel my body calming down. The tears came back only a couple more times... but that repeated mantra of "No fear and no regrets" was a balm for my scaredy cat soul. I was in a deeper place of meditation, and of being at one with God, at one with Jesus... the flesh-and-blood embodiment of God. And again, the promise that "I will be with you until the end of the age" popped in my head. Knowing that has given me the necessary confidence on many occasion. Tonight was no exception.
Tomorrow is Good Friday. I will be remembering Jesus as I join with Pax Christi and others who are against the death penalty for the annual vigil held on the steps of the Old State Capitol Building.
Almighty God, we pray you graciously to behold this your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
--Collect for Good Friday, BCP pg. 221