In the Midst of it All
It’s Tuesday. I say that more to remind myself than for you as it seems I lose track all too easily these days. I’m quite aware that it’s Holy Week, but the sacred rhythm of that is simply so discomfiting this year that, honestly, I can’t really figure out how I’m feeling. Seriously. It’s the oddest experience. It will push 80 degrees today and the clouds are finally breaking and I sense the coming of spring. And I talked to my dad this morning and western Kansas is to get between 1-3 inches of snow on Sunday, and our weather people are predicting rain at the least and maybe a mix of rain and snow during the day. It’s not the first year it has happened in the Midwest, that there is rain or even ice or snow on Easter, but THIS year? Maybe it fits a little bit.
The last time this happened one of the head ushers at the time, a friend named Doc, upon seeing the forecast, started playing with his pastor a bit. “Ooooooh Pastor,” he’d say, “It’s going to snow on Easter!!!” And I’d come back, “Stop saying that, Doc! You take those words back out of the universe before God hears them!” “Nah,” he’d say, “There isn’t anything a long-winded pastor can do about it, it’s going to snow!” I finally said, “Wanna bet?” (don’t tell the Bishop, we UM’s don’t gamble).
“Sure, how about a banana split at the DQ?” he asked. “Perfect,” I said, “and I’m getting mine with chocolate ice cream instead of vanilla, and hot fudge as all the toppings.” “That’s just a hot fudge sundae on steroids,” he says. I say, “I don’t care, you’re paying!”
It sleeted that Easter Sunday. “I win, I win, I win,” I announced to him when he came in for early service to usher. “Oh no,” he says, “sleet is way closer to snow than sunshine and blue sky!” We agreed it was a draw . . . and btw, he paid. You gotta watch those pastors! We had banana splits every year after that til he moved into God’s full presence, and his daughter gave me a gift card to DQ as part of our celebration of his life, I still have it.
That memory makes my heart happy. It comes back every year about this time. It somehow makes the resurrection that much more real for me. It’s bittersweet, of course, because those remembrances of people we love who are gone make us miss them, and also the sweetness of having known them and of continuing to trust in God’s great goodness that moves beyond the day.
You will hear me share on Maundy Thursday night’s worship, these words that caught me anew from Rob Bell’s book, “What We Think About When We Think About God.” The book was published in 2014, but these words . . . these words seem so prophetic living where we are exactly now:
“The ancient sages say that when Moses comes across the burning bush, he doesn’t take his sandals off because suddenly the ground has become holy; he takes his sandals off because he’s just now realizing that the ground has been holy THE WHOLE TIME. You are on holy ground WHEREVER YOU ARE, and Jesus comes to let us know that the whole world is a temple because we’re temples, all of life is spiritual, all space sacred, all ground holy. He comes to heighten our senses and sharpen our eyes to that which we’ve been surrounded by the whole time; we’re just now beginning to see it.” (caps. mine).
I love that and I love how it speaks into what and where we’re living right now. We ARE on Holy Ground wherever we are right now. Maybe a part of God, in the middle of this, is inviting us to allow our faith in Jesus to “heighten our senses”, to stop taking for granted all the life by which we are surrounded. How much have we passed by without always noticing – our love for our family and friends, the beauty of a walk, the gift of teaching and being taught in the same room at the same time, a simple hug. The people and things we now miss, the nuances of the world many now have time to notice, the value of community connections that remain even when the in-person part is not possible.
The best I can say right now is that I’m trying. I’m trying to live into the Holiest of weeks without regret or resentment, and that’s simply honest. The suffering is not even an ocean depth of closeness to what Jesus experienced, but maybe it’s closer to a sense of it than I’ve been in a long time. Please understand, I’m not discrediting the suffering we each have experienced in our own ways, but comparative to rejection, betrayal, false conviction, whipping, and being nailed to a cross; sheltering at home and not being able to gather as a great congregation for Easter doesn’t hold a candle. And yet, it is hard. It’s hard of spirit, mind, body, and soul. So I just name that – with and without degree of comparison – I just name it out loud for myself. And then I trust God. The same God who smiled at Doc and my wager about the weather on Easter so many years ago. The same God who is with every. single. person. suffering in an ICU on a vent., serving on a front line with the suffering, grieving the loss of a loved one from this or any other disease. The same God who is with us in days of sunshine and snow, days of snarkiness and days of joy, days of remembering yesterday, wondering about tomorrow, and trying to live fully today.
Wherever we are, friends, the ground is holy because God is here, right here in the midst of feeling all the feelings and walking with hope toward the resurrection celebration and beyond. Today it’s pushing 80 and I’m going to fling open the windows and breathe deeply of spring into summer. And Sunday I’ll sit by the fire and see the light of Christ dancing and dawning in the midst of a bit of leftover winter. Blessings of this Holy Week, and blessings for every tomorrow.
I love this video below. Some of you have asked why we aren’t doing this with our choir for our on-line services. I don’t know how it works, but my understanding from people who do, is that it is far more complicated than it may look. In the comments attached with this youtube video, is this, “Can we have a moment of silence for whichever editors laid down however many days/months of their lives to sync up these voices and then animate this whole thing.” But this song in this fashion so fits where we are, do enjoy the work someone did for it!!!