When you’re in love the reasoning behind your affection can be difficult to ascertain—the love supersedes what is commonly considered logical or within the realms of accepted reality. I guess I’m in love with Jesus.
On Good Friday, I went to mass with A. I left feeling a bit dejected and guilty. My mind had spent most of the time wandering and halfway through the two hour service I noticed my antsy feet were jiggling the pew in front of me. I was not embracing the mystery. It was not long ago that I felt a thrill at the symbolism, sanctity and unity that infused traditional services. Now I only felt impatience. Can it be that I’ve killed my ability to be receptive to this mode of spiritual connection?
My schedule has been completely askew this week, set on the shelf waiting for Monday and the promise of a more normal work-week. The result has been a perpetual struggle with anxiety and irritability. Thursday night I was on the edge of despair. Friday morning I rallied, but my response to the service acted as a catalyst for a decline in morale. Saturday I slept deep and late into the morning; running errands in a mental fog and returning just in time to leave for an Easter/Birthday cook-out.
After that I felt pressed for time to do laundry and get a good run in before going to HR to cover the night shift. I couldn’t find my keys and was feeling agitated and rushed when J called. I overrode my usual inclination to ignore incoming calls and answered. It was good to catch up with my wise, mystic, silly friend. He said some things about faith that made me wish I’d been recording our conversation. It was something about the need for an apocalyptic, eschatological faith—as crazy as it sounds, he said, we need a Christianity that embraces the idea of a kind of Utopian future—we need hope. In the moment I didn’t fully agree or believe, at the same time though, something clicked. I was raised, if only a little.
This morning I went to St. Thomas with no expectations. In truth, I went anticipating the discomfort of insincere recitation as I participated in worship. I went with the expectation of being unmoved. I was drifting until the gospel when Andy’s reading of John 20:1-8—Mary’s lament at the empty tomb of Jesus—captured me. It was her despair at the perceived loss of her believed that pierced through my apathy. Not only was he dead, now even his body was absent and she had nothing left to hold on to. I grieved with her.
Without recounting every detail of my thought process, there came a point in my sparse notes that I scratched, “Oh Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, how long will you put up with me?” Mary mourned at an empty tomb. I avert my eyes like someone avoiding the sigh of what they are afraid of (will it turn out that no one is there?). Both of us focused on an absence, ignoring the presence that asks of her, “Why do you weep?” of me, “why do you ignore?” Communion was a blessed reunion and the song that accompanied it contained a verse, “How I love him,” that I sang with the heart of a grateful lover; changing my vocabulary from “I doubt,” to “I wonder.”