Saturday, April 23, 2011

Holy Saturday morning reflection

Stillness hovers over Eastern Point Retreat House this Holy Saturday morning. The light drizzle keeps the retreatants indoors. The atmosphere is subdued but not somber. The water-saturated land can drink no more. The ocean rests. The waves cease. This is a liminal time - for waiting and for waiting for nothing. Lent is over and the Holy Week Services have begun. Upon waking this morning, I felt no reason to arise and no reason to stay in bed. I have lost my good friend and while life does not seem bleak, I feel a gaping hole in my day. I feel no compunction to do anything meaningful because many events seem devoid of meaning. I know it will change and yet I won't deny what is happening in the present.

I've worked hard in the lawn clearing out the tangled vines this Lent. I made great progress and the land is looking more beautiful. It is ripe with possibilities for enhanced beauty. I'm covered with scrapes and bruises and sore muscles but it is the activity I chose for one of my Lenten observances. I rushed to complete my work and as I moved closer to Easter I realized my work, like all work, remains unfinished. I am not the architect or the master gardener. Much of life remains unresolved, incomplete, and un-reconciled. It is a good way for me to spend this Holy Saturday.

I think of what we did together over the past year. We spent a time of great fun in Australia as we heard stories from other tertians across the world. Many beautiful people were brought into my life from Sydney, Melbourne, Clare, and Hervey Bay. We went to New Zealand (Aotearoa) together and had a sacred time just getting immersed into the lives of the people of Taranaki and Wellington. Upon my return Stateside, we settled into Eastern Point Retreat House to begin a privileged time of listening to stories of many good people who want to be closer to him. I marveled at all the people he entrusted to me. Through them, he made me a nicer and kinder man. He continually brought me out of myself so I could more faithfully do what he asked of me.

We spent a picturesque autumn season in New England and we endured a hard winter. Now, we await spring that doesn't quite seem to have arrived yet. Even though Easter is later in the calendar this year, it seems cooler than prior years. I've prayed the holy liturgy each day in his honor. I've buried loved ones and I've prayed with those who were or still are sick. We've held the sacred stories of many people who hold the weight of the world on their shoulders and we've encouraged them to give that heaviness over to him so that he can take it to the cross and bury it with him. I'm told him of my own heaviness that I somehow cannot quite give over to him.

I have tried to love my Jesuit brothers more fully. I can see many beautiful aspects of their lives. I can see that they are truly disciples of Jesus Christ. He radiates through them and gives them some amazing graces. He has been generous to them and they are generous to the church and their ministries. I am grateful to be their brother and I hope I do some of the good that they do. I realize that much of our work will remain unfinished because it is really his work to do and he is happy to have us as a part of it. I think of Ecclesiastes 3 when the preacher writes that we are to find happiness in the toils of our labors. Seek happiness. If we seek, we will find it. I'm sure of that which is why I try to choose to be happy each day. We are given by God as gifts to ourselves and we are to freely give ourselves to others.

I sense he is inviting me to spend the day thinking about what we did together throughout the last year. We are to recall together those times in which he was present to me regardless of whether they were filled with pain or happiness. I'd like him to re-member the events of my life and re-order them into a way that is life-giving and healing. I want to recall those times when he merely beheld me and told me that I am beautiful to him and I'd like to tell him again that I find him beautiful and that I'm grateful that he would choose to bother with me. Our best times together are when we reverentially behold each other and find wonder in one another. These times are sustaining. I'll try not to rush through the day.

Intellectually, I know that our steadfast, saving God will raise him from his death tomorrow. I know that. I believe it. I never will understand the Resurrection, but I know it happens. I feel something changed within me and as I mature I begin to look forward to the events of his Passion, Death, and Resurrection out of necessity. I know I will feel the consoling presence of Jesus Christ who will want to share with me the joy he feels in his great victory over sin and death. He will want me to join him in his joyful song and dance. I know my heart will be lighter, my heaviness gone, and that I will have a greater appreciation for all that is beautiful and meaningful. I will feel great assurance that he lives.

He will take care of his church and the people of God. It means I can be free from the anxieties that beset the church. If I trust in him and believe in him then I realize the limitations of my power and the power of others. I know he will take care of those many people who carry angst, anger, deep grief, or confusion  in their hearts. I know that he can provide meaning for them. Our task is both radically simple and extraordinarily difficult - we have to be open. We may have to let go of our strong will and our firmly held opinions in order to let another's perspective be heard. We are to be open to the growth that he desires for us. Know when it is time to embrace rather than cling tightly. Mary Magdalene had to learn that lesson right away when the Risen Lord tells her, "Do not cling to me." The time is right to give him a little bit of room to enter more fully into our lives.

Yesterday during the Good Friday Scriptures, we heard Christ say, "It is finished." Yes, his life had ended. However, it is not finished....

He is Risen! Alleluia!