Saturday, April 15, 2006

be kind to Jesus. thanks.

Despite all the nerves and never really having a rehearsal with everyone there, "Take My Mother Home" went rather smoothly. It was certainly one of the most interesting evening prayers on Good Friday I had ever gone too. Tibetan bells to start the prayer. There were three dancers doing a bit of modern dance to a couple of the choir songs. Then the play. A very moving experience with all the elements together. It reminded me of the people in the Passion story. The bible is a story focused on God, but primarily through people's lives and their experiences. Of those who are there during the times we are weak and fallible, but who remain. Reminding me God is not out there, up here, someplace distant and far. God is here, in the present state, next to you, in that person in your life, in that person who just entered your life, in that person who just left your life. God is here.

Afterwards, they brought out a wooden cross and laid it on the floor propped on a couple of the steps so people could come up and kiss or touch the cross. I had forgotten about this Good Friday ritual. So a few people go up, hoping the rest of the congregation will get the clue that they can go up their and do it to, but no one else goes up. So it's suggested to Godmother (the woman who wrote the play and got me involved in it) that we should lift the cross up. OK. This was as large cross, about 8 ft high, solid hard wood. Godmother of course nudges me with her elbow and says give me hand. OK.

So we go up and lift the cross, but since it's so tall we only lift it to an angle (about 60 degrees off the ground), our arms raised up slightly above our heads. OK. Now what? The congregation gets the hint and they all line up to come, kneel, kiss and/or touch the cross. We look at each other and know that this is quite the experience for us, to stand together and hold this cross up together. She has been a mentor and a friend who has known me for half my life. A woman I have always felt connected to. A woman I could never lie to, who has taught me alot about being honest with your heart and about living life to the fullest.

OK. So it was a wonderful, memorable and moving experience for the both of us for like the first minute. Then the cross was starting to get heavy. And it wasn't so much the weight of the cross itself, that was fine. It was when people would come up to the cross and either touch their heads to it or kneel. Some people were quite gentle, could barely tell that they were there other than their feet entering our view. I'm not sure what other people were doing. As we looked down focusing on holding this cross up. We'd watch people's feet approach. Then we would feel the wood vibrate with a twang that resonated through our palms as they didn't place their heads to the cross they bonked them onto the cross. People were hitting the cross hard. Do you think you could you be a little nicer to Jesus? Considering he is dying for your sins today? Thanks. Then there were the people who would kneel, but then would push down on the cross in order to lift themselves up from the kneeling position. We in turn would brace a bit keep the cross from crashing on our heads from their weight.

At one point I looked up and the line to kiss the cross was clear to the back of the church both sides. I wondered where all these people came from. I knew I was in decent shape and could try to muscle through this. But Godmother is retiring this year. As her hand covered my hand, I attempted to hold the brunt of the weight. Attempted to practice some meditation to relax the body and shoot the energy through. Then I felt a shaking in my right hand which was holding the crux of the cross. Since our hands were touching I wasn't sure if it was me shaking or her shaking. I try to shift my shoulder muscles a bit to alleviate the fatigued muscle, in case it was me. That's all we would need is to have this cross come crashing down to the floor. I looked to the woman to the right of me holding this cross up, and thought, "what has she gotten me into now?!?"

On Good Friday, Catholics observe the Stations of the Cross, the story of Jesus carrying his cross to his execution site while being ridiculed by the crowd. And as the weight of the cross grew and the weight of people pressed more and more, I began to get the slightest glimpse of what simply carrying a cross would be like. And the cross Jesus had must have been a whole lot bigger than this one which was all nicely sanded and lacquered. And what about those who reenact the crucifixion?

Fortunately for us, we had a pair of Simons that stepped in to relieve us, two of the male high school students who were also in the play. One of them played Jesus in the play so it was more than appropriate for him to carry the cross. We were sincerely grateful that they had stepped in as we were not sure where we were going to find the strength to continue holding the cross with the unending line of parishioners though knowing what Godmother and I are like together we would have figured something out.

At one point, we went back up there to see our Simons needing relieving, but they said no they were fine. We went back to our pews and Godmother whispers to me, "I forgot, they're guys." Fine by me. The guys made it through to the end, another 12 minutes or so later.

Afterwards, Godmother and I massaged our arms and shared a bit of giggling reactions to our bonding experience as we relived and laughed about the head bonking, the heavy hands, the quivering muscles. How she thought I must have calculated the proper angle to the cross for optimal carrying in my head. Which of course I didn't, because I didn't know what we were doing for how long. And how the Sister who had suggested to Godmother to lift the cross in the first place said that well, she was going to go up their and do it, but then she forgot. Another roll of laughter!

Life is hard. Life is sad. We are weak. We are fallible. We gain people. We lose people. Yet life can also be full of so much love and laughter. And silly amusing things that can get you giggling for half an hour. And full of simple moments that touch you in such a way you remember them for a lifetime. Life is all of that. It's part of what makes life so good.

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