A Prayer for Good Friday

dark-764923_1920

Dearest Lord,

What a dark, dark, day this was, all those years ago. Words cannot capture it.

I am feel as though, oh Lord, that my cynicism isolates me from other believers. I think this is a product of too much life lived within the bubble of Christian education. And I know my cynicism is a cover for a deep, pervading loneliness (“does anyone struggle the way I do?”) and doubt (“am I really one of yours, oh Jesus? Or is all this cynicism indicative of an unalterable pride within me?”). I want to change; I want the faith of a child. But I do not know if this is even possible. There’s that cynicism again.

When I look to Good Friday I -no surprise- snort indignatiously: “‘Good?’ How human of us to look to the cross and say ‘welp! Now we’re free and clear. Alleluia!'” And isolated from your grace I remain.

But then I hear the call, oh Lord: “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” A call of doubt and despair, that evolves around the thought: “are you really gonna pull this off? Why do I call to you and my call carries into the void?!” Your son said this. Your son despaired in the emptiness of your presence. I think this means, I hope this means, that there’s grace for me when I do the same.

So drown my cynical heart in the baptismal waters of your grace. Raise me afresh and renewed. Until then, allow me to rest in the knowledge that your silence is not the void of your grace departed. Help me to trust that the darkest, most cynical heart can still be raised from the grave and into new life.

Thank you for loving me, cynical as I may be. Thank you for loving this world, broken as it may be. Thank you for loving all things, all of the heavens and earth and peoples and tribes, sinful as we may be. 

On a lighter note: my March Madness bracket could use a little bit of your resurrection power. If you don’t mind. I ask because I know that there’s always some to spare, infinite grace and all.

Amen.

Advertisements

A Hand I Can Accept

My wife came home the other day with a potted pansy with which to decorate the apartment. We set it by our living room window for ample sunlight and I was disconcerted to notice it already looked somewhat withered. So I watered it and opened the window, assuming fresh air would do it some good.

The following days were warm and amicable. I didn’t check the weather too much and the window stayed open. Then one night a front moved through. My wife and I went to sleep with the sound of rain falling outside our open window and just a lite blanket on our bed.

But by the time we awoke both of us were shivering. When I raised the blinds in our bedroom I beheld a thin layer of snow covering the ground. I closed the window then remembered the pansy.

Sure enough, it was sitting upon the open windowsill exposed to the bitter chill from outside. The leaves were completely withered, hanging over the side of its pot like a ten-year-old with a bad case of seasickness might posture himself over the railing of a ship. I closed the window quickly, though I doubted it would do any good.

I have not come to terms with a world in which things die; I’m not quite sure I am meant too. For the survival instincts of a living, breathing and pulsating planet beckons me to witness the common bond between all living things, the bond that drives us in a plight for survival. Despite what we all know.

I went for a run the other day and jogged over what used to be a squirrel, flattened in the middle of the road. I stopped and looked at it grotesquely arranged on the pavement, a drunken eulogy of flesh and bones. I looked for a moment, then I continued jogging.

My wife appeared from our bedroom with two sweatshirts on and a look that I’m certain was meant to remind me of how I’d insisted on keeping the windows open the night before. But I didn’t take note.

“The flower,” I said, “it was left by the open window last night.”

“So was your wife,” she noted.

“I don’t know what to do,” I said.

“… ‘Sorry’ would be a good start.”

I rolled my eyes at her. “I meant about the pansy.”

Which is, to say the least, missing the point.

I could, perhaps, save the plant. Maybe some super-duper fertilizer would do the trick. Maybe if I put it into the microwave the warmth would revive its veins (note: as it turns out, this is not a good idea). Maybe, if I’m there five minutes before, I can dash out into the street and scare the squirrel into a tree so it isn’t run over.

But the pansy will die eventually. The squirrel may stay in the tree for a moment and, when I’m gone, dash beneath the wheels of the next car to pass. The executioner’s blade will fall upon us all, eventually. We can dodge it for a while; we can avoid it for a time. But learning to avoid it is missing the point. And I’d rather believe that death is god and it will win than ignore the elephant with cross-bones in its eyes looming at the end of my existence. I could not live in such denial.

But that is why yesterday I celebrated the only death I can celebrate: the death of a humble carpenter from a humble town, one that I’ve never visited. I celebrate this death with joy and reverence. I celebrate this death as I remove the pansy from my windowsill and stare at the body of a squirrel in the street. I celebrate the death with every moment of my existence, a living celebration to Him.

I celebrate His death for the fact that it was the most voluntary event in the cosmos. He was not a flower weakly succumbing to a sudden atmospheric change. Rather, He submitted to death’s terms by choice. And I celebrated His death yesterday because tomorrow I will celebrate that His agreement to said terms was only temporary; He always held the upper hand and He played it for everyone. Everyone, that is, but Himself.

I cannot accept a world where things die around me but I can accept that hand. I can accept a hand with a nail driven through it. I can accept a hand played for a world that lives, breathes and fights for life in testimony to the voluntary acceptance of the final sting in our stead. I can accept the hand which says a dead flower on my windowsill is neither permanent nor unnoticed.

I can accept that hand and within it find joy.

Then I can apologize to my wife for leaving the window open.