I can remember clearly the morning of my baptism 21 years ago. Heeding the counsel of a priest/mentor I immersed myself in every offering of Holy Week, and by Saturday morning I felt like spiritual pulp. In a good way. The week had done its work on me, and I remember stating that I felt like I was dead. In a good way. Empty. Void. My soul was shrouded in a kind of silence that echoed the tomb and offered no balm for the hearts broken by Jesus' death. And yet there was peace. Calm.
As I headed to church last night for our Good Friday liturgy the skies were gray and upheaval was on my mind. Earlier in the day members of the parish gathered for Stations of the Cross, aware as we did so that severe weather was headed our way. We felt that we would safely complete our liturgy and send people on their way before there was any danger.
During the stations the heavens opened, lightning flashed and thunder boomed. Love it when that happens. Holy timing. But when we had concluded the liturgy the tornado siren was singing its song and we headed to the church basement. Built into a mild incline our bathrooms are very safe in such weather, and we felt confident that we were secure in our cinderblock haven. To the south of us, lives and homes were about to be shredded. Literally.
Murfreesboro is a booming bedroom community of Nashville, home to Middle Tennessee State University and locale of a lot of Ken's work. We also know a fair number of people from my days there as interim at St. Paul's. A tornado cut a ten-mile swath through sections of town at about the time we were holding our Stations. Two are dead and others injured. There is ruin. So much ruin.
Upheaval was on my mind. The news from NPR about the continuing piracy standoff suggested its own kind of chaos, and the family of Richard Phillips, along with a global audience that joined them with concern, could do nothing but wait. Like the stillness of Holy Saturday there was nothing to do but be in anguish.
It was the stuff of Good Friday sermons, but I was not ready to preach it. Or so I thought. I did talk about the community that was born of the cross. About how suffering and anguish was made more bearable in the company of faithful others. I didn't mention Murfreesboro. I didn't refer to pirates. But the message was the same. It was a Good Friday reality for those stories and for many others around the world, I am sure.
Today Murfreesboro is cleaning up and the world continues to wait for some break from the Somalian stalemate. Chaos and stillness--the perpetual paradox that characterizes the journey that traces its way through our hearts and our lives. Like a tornado its path is unpredictable. Like a stalemate we do not know when or how it will end. What we do know is that we will move through it. Eventually. With God's help and the love and light of companions in faith and the good souls God sends our way we make our way through. And we are changed.
This morning I am heading to an Easter egg hunt. A break in this holy day of somber waiting for levity and laughter and the cuteness of children. It is all part of the mix. All holy.
Blessings to one and all, wherever life finds you this day.