Holy Week in Hell
It’s Holy Week in Hell this week and they’re considering burying bodies in New York City public parks.
I’m not religious. Maybe vaguely spiritual, these days, but Easter week has always held me in rapt suspense. What if!? The magic and miracle is within us — just tomb laid and ready to rise? What if!? Love so great it tears a curtain of separation — God and woman. What if!? A message so hopeful it changes a hell bent world for eternity.
It’s Holy week in Hell as my dad undergoes chemotherapy alone in a sterilized hospital ward that, not ironically, was closed and sanitized after it was found to be ground zero for Coronavirus in my part of the world. Tell me about holiness as poison drips into his bloodstream. Tell me how it feels to let some of yourself die in order that another part will live. Talk to me about becoming eternal.
In isolation we wrack our brains for meaning, for eulogy, for epilogue. What will we leave behind? Faced with our own mortality we are spinning webs of “what if.” What if!?
Did you know the beeping sound of an immunotherapy IV ending is a type of prayer too, Holy Week? Did you know we are tasked with Kingdom Come?
I spent enough of my childhood and early adulthood engrossed in the process and substance of Flesh and Blood — my Daily Bread. The stations of the cross, meaning of Eucharist, belief in rebirth, hope of Heaven, and, of course, rampant guilt ridden confessions and revelations, took me to my knees and to the end of a rope that I didn’t know I’d held. Religion can be a lifeline and, too, a noose. It’s all in how you hang it. What if!?
The oft forgotten moment of Holy Week is the pause we live in today. Slow waking, trembling walk towards graveside or city park, in anticipation of the loss or the losing. Saturday is coming. Saturday is here. It’s the long wait between death and rising — the what if, if you will. It’s Holy Week in Hell and it’s the longest Easter Saturday we’ve collectively experienced, in our lifetime, in the one before. Will economic collapse drive suicide rates? Will churches reopen to empty pews and hearts that realized Holiness happens outside stained glass — well into the deep pits of despair or outlands of Heaven we make in our own homes, in our own hearts. Is it possible that we are all in church, today, right now?
What if!? My dad beats cancer. My mom gets to hold her youngest granddaughter again. We emerge our homes, break the curtain of separation, greet one another with a Holy Kiss, again. What if it isn’t a lifeline or a noose but just a braided cord of Come What May and the refrain of Selah — a Holy Pause.
Saturday of Holy Week has been nearly 100 days of hell on earth. Saturday of Holy Week is where we regroup and deep breathe and try and remember what it was like to believe in magic. To see spring blades of green grass as sacred. To wake early, eyes misty, pour coffee and listen to robins sing Hosanna. It’s Holy Week in Hell and I am further from everyone than I have ever been. Closer, too.
Did you know the sound of your heart breaking, fist clenched screams at the sky, is a type of prayer, too, Holy Week? A head hanging, hoarse throated, Hallelujah in the Halloween of all Easters.
Hosanna. He is risen. What if?! Us too.