For We Who Are Alone Together on Holy Wednesday

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.

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. 

And yet—

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—

Author: Jill Crainshaw

I am a professor at Wake Forest University School of Divinity and an ordained PCUSA minister.

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