17 March 2016
For one day we are asked to stand still and do nothing but contemplate the unbearable
I dread Good Friday. No one else seems to. Everyone I know seems to get through it without letting it ruin the weeks running up to it. But for me, when Lent begins, an anticipatory gloom settles over me. I find myself trying to avoid the observance of Lent itself, because I do not want to admit what is inevitably coming, at the end.
Of course, I know that what happens on Good Friday is, in a certain way, the focus of the whole liturgical year. Jean Vanier often remarks that in modern life we do not any more know how to respond to inexplicable and irresolvable pain. We just turn away from it. On Good Friday we are invited to live without denial, at least for a day. For one day we are asked to stand still and do nothing but contemplate the unbearable.
But somehow, when the moment comes, all that pious sentiment seems theoretical and remote. I sit reluctantly at the altar of repose the night before, fidgeting miserably and wishing it would all go away. I just do not know how to bear it: standing still for two hours with nothing to think about but the torture of a human body.
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