In reflecting on Good Friday, I was reminded of W.H Auden's poem "Horae Canonica" which is a procession through the divine hours on Good Friday (in its own way). This section stood out to me -
From W.H. Auden's Horae Canonica -
What we know to be not possible,
Though time after time foretold
By wild hermits, by shaman and sybil
Gibbering in their trances,
Or revealed to a child in some chance rhyme
Like will and kill, comes to pass
Before we realize it: we are surprised
At the ease and speed of our deed
And uneasy: It is barely three,
Mid-afternoon, yet the blood
Of our sacrifice is already
Dry on the grass; we are not prepared
For silence so sudden and so soon;
The day is too hot, too bright, too still,
Too ever, the dead remains too nothing.
What shall we do till nightfall?
The wind has dropped and we have lost our public.
The faceless many who always
Collect when any world is to be wrecked,
Blown up, burnt down, cracked open,
Felled, sawn in two, hacked through, torn apart,
Have all melted away: not one
Of these who in the shade of walls and trees
Lie sprawled now, calmly sleeping,
Harmless as sheep, can remember why
He shouted or what about
So loudly in the sunshine this morning;
All if challenged would reply
-'It was a monster with one red eye,
A crowd that saw him die, not I.-
The hangman has gone to wash, the soldiers to eat;
We are left alone with our feat.
The Madonna with the green woodpecker,
The Madonna of the fig-tree,
The Madonna beside the yellow dam,
Turn their kind faces from us
And our projects under construction,
Look only in one direction,
Fix their gaze on our completed work:
Crane and pick-axe wait to be used again,
But how can we repeat this?
Outliving our act, we stand where we are,
As disregarded as some
Discarded artifact of our own,
Like torn gloves, rusted kettles,
Abandoned branch-lines, worn lop-sided
Grindstones buried in nettles.
This mutilated flesh, our victim,
Explains too nakedly, too well,
The spell of the asparagus garden,
The aim of our chalk-pit game; stamps,
Birds' eggs are not the same, behind the wonder
Of tow-paths and sunken lanes,
Behind the rapture on the spiral stair,
We shall always now be aware
Of the deed into which they lead, under
The mock chase and mock capture,
The racing and tussling and splashing,
The panting and the laughter,
Be listening for the cry and stillness
To follow after: wherever
The sun shines, brooks run, books are written,
There will also be this death.
Today we celebrate the goodness of the day God died. For Christians this day defines who God is, for others this day proves that our religion is untrue because gods don't die. What strikes me today is the ordinariness of this day. I had my morning coffee, I will fix dinner tonight, I will take my daughter to playgroup. Perhaps Good Friday doesn't disrupt my life enough. Our church is holding services/events on Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday this year. So Good Friday must be remembered in the ordinariness of everyday life.
But isn't that as it should be? That the death of Christ should influence and change everything? That enacting the ritual of the everyday should be imbued with the significance of Christ? That there is something different about changing the diapers, cutting the grass, or doing the dishes because of this death?
But that change occurs in two ways. At first those habits seem so ordinary as to be meaningless. In the shadow of cosmic redemption dramas, our daily actions seem so pointless and boring. Yet at the same time in light of the call that cosmic drama gave to each of us, those actions now take on new meaning. They become part of the drama, a way of identifying with the story. Acts of remembrance and service and hope.
So I will walk through my everyday rituals today in hope. In knowing that this day is good and that this death has changed the ordinary forever.
Labels: Reflections, Via Crucis Gridbllog