Sunday, May 08, 2011

Holy Week - images

Palm Sunday....was it a demo? was it a procession? there was certainly lots of joy and excitement in the air but when we were asked whom we wanted to release the cry
"Barabbas" almost raised the roof.
I still shudder as I remember it.
There's no escape. We are all implicated.....

From Palm Sunday, with its passion and Passion, we turn to the civility of an Agape meal at church on the hill. All is done decently and in order. We hear the story, we remember and reflect...then go on our way in silence.
The following evening I wait in the Lady Chapel in case anyone should want to make their confession. Catholic practice has been rather mislaid in these parishes in recent years, so it's no surpise that I'm alone for that hour - but a casual offer on twitter for any prayer requests leaves me with so much to do that I am both overwhelmed and humbled. Such a privilege to be asked to pray for friends I've shared thoughts and moments I light a candle for each of them

The week progresses......the shadows lengthen, represented by the increasing darkess of Tenebrae. Candles are extinguished, one by one as we listen to the Lamentations of Jeremiah set by Bairstow and finally to Allegri's Miserere. All is dark for a while, till amid the noise (of several dustbin lids being walloped for all their worth) earthquakes and upheavals herald the resurrection........the Christ-light cannot be extinguished.

But then we come to Thursday. The family gathers around the table, feet are washed as we try to learn together what it means to be the servant of all......bread is broken, wine poured out......but the shadows are almost overwhelming now. Together we strip the church of all that makes it special, each softening touch, each sign that this is a holy place. We listen to Psalm 22 and enter into the desolation - but there is still a garden, a place of peace and light, an island in the prevailing darkness.

Finally comes Friday...the day when the world seems to end.......the saddest day of all. We walk in the shadow of the cross, toiling uphill, a straggling group, none of us sure if we'll make it to the summit. We pray. We sing. Then at noon there is silence. We have run out of words so let our feelings, our thoughts be swallowed up by the lark song.

We follow Christ into the darkness...try to rest...but the impulse to be up and doing, to conceal our pain and desolation with a ferment of activity brings us back, like the women to the garden, - back to the church that is not a church,to the holy place made ordinary by the absence of the One who is the reason for its being. For this one day, here is a completely ordinary space - so we clean, we polish, we sweep...

And then, exhausted, hardly daring to hope - though we know the miraculous chapter that lies just over the page, we wait........and wait.......


Perpetua said...

What a vivid evocation of Holy Week. Thank you.

Richard Gillin said...

Indeed - lovely pictures of what looks like a truly blessed week. The altar of repose looks beautiful (and Archdruid Eileen would appreciate the tealights!)