Today is Holy Wednesday. The middle of a week. The middle of Christianity’s Holy Week. The middle of unrelenting messiness in our towns and cities—in our world.
Holy Wednesday is called Spy Wednesday in some parts of the Christian tradition because the day remembers Judas Iscariot’s despairing plans to betray Jesus. The betrayal is financial. Political. Spiritual. Personal.
The story of the betrayal makes me uncomfortable in all sorts of ways. Our world was and is already messy with betrayals of many kinds, and now our days are engulfed by a multidimensional betrayal called COVID-19 that threatens our collective existence, reveals yet again fault lines in our human institutions, and defies clear cut explanations and responses.
The Gospel story calls us to hold steady in faith even when faced with fear and uncertainty. The arc of Holy Week is toward hope. In that hope, I pray that we come to terms with what it means to be in community with each other. I pray that God renews our understanding and our aliveness as people of faith. I pray for peace and healing across our world. And I pray that I—that we—find courage and boldness both to speak these prayers and embody actions that fulfill them in the name of Jesus who journeys with us Holy Week roads.
For We Who Are Alone Together I sit alone together with the whip-poor-wills, watching sunsetting shadows sneak across the front porch where a bold squirrel has left her supper crumbs to taunt my tiny terrier when she bounds out the front door for tomorrow’s morning walk—alone together with our neighbor’s eggshell poodle who answers to Rainbow (why did I never follow up on my promise to learn the neighbor’s name?) and presses her furry body to the ground in timid joy when she sees us, even if we are a street-crossing distant from her. I hear a trumpet—or is it a trombone— muted but clear down the street—or is it next door? Hard to tell in these days of i-recorded Taps rising like virtual incense up over the dust to which we all shall one day return alone together. I walk down the street as the ancient dogwood, whose pink-tipped blossoms are unfurling one more time like a thousand miniature Easter flags, keeps watch by the front yard gate. The horn sounds clearer but deeper—a trombone, for sure. Not Taps, then, bugling alone that another day is done. Jazz, perhaps? Rising up to caress unlit stars as though they are Aladdin lamps hiding unspent wishes? A door to the neighboring church is cracked open, a tomb unsealed: hark the herald vibrates from unseen lips as an owl in the loblolly pine responds—