Friday, April 06, 2007

In the midst of life...

Originally uploaded by goforchris.
Yesterday I referred to the feeling of headlong movement through Holy Week, and wondered at the time what it would feel like to be still and contemplative during this time. But when I consider this idea, as I did in fact have time to last evening during the Maundy Watch, I realise that perhaps the experience of breathlessness is closer to reality. St Mark's gospel has Jesus teaching, as it were, right up to the wire - right up till that last supper with his disciples he is teaching, countering argument, vigorously doing what he has been doing throughout his ministry, but with what looks like renewed urgency.

And then there is the prayer in the Garden, after which the guards come and he is taken off to face a hasty mockery of a trial. Within 15 hours, say, he is dead on a cross. In our tradition, we ponder on sign and symbol, we celebrate beautiful liturgies, we use music and silence to help our prayers. But of course it wasn't like that. Perhaps we should celebrate our liturgies in the supermarket, or in the main road, with people staring curiously or shouting abuse or merely tutting because we're in their way and they want past. Perhaps then we'd feel some of the pain of rejection and lack of interest; perhaps then we'd know what it feels like suffer intensely while the uncaring world gets on with its life.

Auden, in his poem Musee des Beaux Arts" makes the point " That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, " - while life goes on all around it. I have just told a bemused cold caller from somewhere far to the east of here that no, he couldn't speak to either of us because it was Good Friday and we were otherwise engaged and not wanting to buy insurance or a new phone system. He hung up without further ado and I came back to finish writing this. Life going on.

And now I shall wander up the road to church and have some silence.

Note: There is a new poem on Maundy Thursday over on frankenstina


  1. Anonymous11:55 PM

    As thoughtful as I have come to expect, Chris. Thanks for a new way to look at Good Friday and our memorialization of it.

  2. In many ways, christianity should be a thorn in the flesh, shouldn't it? Not self-martyrdom, but making others (and ourselves) stop and think and feel.