I didn’t really stop to think about what to expect from Holy Week in light of this exploration of Catholicism – it just sort of was suddenly here – the culmination of Lent. I hadn’t prepared in any special way – I didn’t even attend the Palm Sunday mass that I’ve grown to love over the years. I didn’t pause to remind myself that this is a week where the many spiritual realities that I am sensitive to are boldly in play, and that I would likely experience them. I just sort of tumbled headlong into the week.
I didn’t bank on the dreams. The dreams stole my peaceful sleeping hours, and transported me into memories and relationships that are painful – that mark my first exploration of Catholicism. They made way for darkness and lies, and there were days where I wondered if I would make it intact through the week. They brought forth things that I choose not to focus on for the most part – the days and weeks and months full of drama, accusations, unbalanced power, and twisted spirituality. In my sleep they presented themselves again, and a week later I continue to process the way forward, prayerfully addressing those dreams and asking if there are things that need to be done.
Maundy Thursday at the hospital. Jesus may have washed the feet of those he loved, but I spent the evening carrying water, delivering medications, listening, assessing, swabbing, chatting, learning. Not quite bread and wine and feet kissed after being made clean, but this is part of my calling, I’ve learned – to love and care for people in this vulnerable place called the hospital. To see the image of Christ in each of them, and serve Christ as I care for them.
Good Friday downtown with a friend. Walking the outdoor way of the cross. Such a myriad of thoughts swirling in my head as I walked and prayed. Reacting first with the ears of an evangelical pastor’s kid as fellow walkers spoke the Hail Mary repeatedly aloud. Settling into it as my heart’s ears opened, as I recognized slowly the sequence of the rosary, as I basked in the sensation of dozens of people walking prayerfully through the downtown streets of my city. Rummaging through my purse for the rosary I bought at the Vatican all those years ago, and clasping it to me as I began to hesitantly pray along, joining my voice with all the others. Feeling frustrated with the specific focus of the reflections and prayers for each station – I wanted simply to focus on Jesus, not think about the wider world and lift it in prayer. And yet, the simple call to justice, to a life lived prayerfully, with concern for the poor, the marginalized, the weak – is this not one of the things that pulls me towards Catholicism too?
Saturday. Oh Saturday. This is the day that I feel so deeply each year. It seemed wrong, somehow, that the sun was out, that the world was going on as normal. I am reminded of this every year, of the wretched in betweenness of this day. Of the feeling when one’s world seems to have ended, and yet the rest of creation is still moving, still living. When even the weather seems determined to ignore the reality that life as we know it has stopped.
And Sunday… not feeling that I could attend Mass, knowing that to attend Mass on Easter would be a bold statement – an outing of myself to my family in a way that it is not yet time for. And yet not knowing where else to go – not able to get across the city at such an early hour for the sunrise house church service, and ending up at my dad’s church. I’m thankful for the worship that morning – led by my brother and sister-in-law. For the silent, wordless drama depicting Jesus and the woman in the garden. For the moments of being caught up in the reality of this immense thing that resurrection is. And yet I was so aware of the lack of Eucharist. On this of all days, I wanted to partake of Christ’s body and blood – to eat and drink and remember. I felt the lack keenly – I feel it more all the time, attending services where the Eucharist isn’t central. And those feelings were in themselves simultaneously telling and unsettling.
And so I remain unsettled as I process dreams, as I ponder calling, as I look at contrasts, and as I long for the Eucharist.