Thursday, April 9, 2009

Holy Thursday and Remembering

Today is Holy Thursday. I was surprised today by how moved I was at our service. I attend the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne. It is a beautiful church. With the bishop, priests, choir and of course the message it is natural to be moved. This is a time of reflection, of attempting to touch the Last Supper, the betrayal, the arrest and the quick slide into the Passion.

However, this time last year I was attending the same service at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield Illinois. I was visiting my ailing mother-in-law. In between visits to the hospital I went to church both Thursday and on Good Friday. I also participated in an out door modern Stations of the Cross.

These are multimodal memories. In the Cathedral it was not only the message but the visual grandeur of the church, the incense, the music that touched me. Outside there was the carrying of the cross, the sounds of the city and the camaraderie of fellow Christians interested in social justice issues. These are sensory memories as well as emotional memories. Last year and today there was the washing of the feet. For me this act of being a servant is one of the most touching lessons of Christianity.

So while I was in church today I listened to our bishop who is probably retiring. I admired his clear and powerful voice and his love for his flock. I listened to the story that gives meaning to the year and the faith. However, I also had powerful memories of my mother-in-law. I did not know it then but those visits would be my last visits with her. I was surprised that the friends I made on the Stations of the Cross were activists she knew. I was comforted by her attitude. That is what I will always remember, that she comforted me!

So today was surprisingly sad for me. The incense reminded me not only of our prayers ascending but of our prayers last year in Springfield. The washing of feet this year reminded me of the simple servants I met last year. The procession after the service reminded me of the procession from the cathedral to the chapel last year but also of my processions to the hospital.

However, if this week says anything it says that death is not the end. It says that communion is also communion with the saints, a reminder that this is hardly all that there is. It reminds me of how I have internalized this woman who was a part of my life for 36 years. It reminds me of one of the most important Easter seasons of my life. It reminds me how much I love and miss Margo. She was an incredible woman.

It reminds me that the suffering of 2000 years ago was real, it was personal and it was profound. This was not philosophical suffering or theological suffering, this was the suffering of the dying, of a mother watching her son die and of friends powerlessly sharing in that loss. Today I briefly touched that pain and the willingness to endure that suffering is truly a mystery. And now, two more days of remembering., participating, and being in thankful awe.

But at this moment it is time to remember and give thanks for a good woman and friend.

I Am the Bread of Life:

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