Ready or Not (Keeping Vigil for Easter)

Our time does not define God’s time.

My friend spent Easter Vigil in a hospital emergency room everal years ago.

Some Christian communities hold a vigil for Easter after nightfall on Holy Saturday. The service begins with a fire outdoors and a procession into a church sanctuary devoid of light. The service celebrates the resurrection of Jesus by igniting light in the darkness.

My friend insisted that even in that emergency room, resurrection arrived. Human time and timing do not determine God’s time, she said. Resurrection comes.

ready or not

“come out
come out
wherever you are”

they hid among the gravestones
she and her friends
whispers
hushed up giggles
hiding
from one seeking

“come out
come out
wherever you are”

tulips and daffodils
buried
among winter tree roots
hiding
from spring sun seeking

“come out
come out
wherever you are”

they found themselves
in the emergency room
during easter vigil
among starch-weary scrubs
hallways crammed with
wails
sobs
hushed up corner conversations
no place to hide

and yet

resurrection

seeking

“ready or not
here i come”

Remembering my friend and colleague, Gail R. O’Day.

Into God’s Hands: A Good Friday Prayer Poem

“Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”

Luke 23:46 (from Psalm 31:5)

The realities of our lives—

All that we see happening around us:

Economic
Political
Spiritual 

To what
To whom
do we commit these things?

“Into your hands I commend my Spirit.”

The things we value—love—hold dear
To whose hands do we entrust these things? 

It is a part of life.

We hand in
Hand over
Hand on
Hand off.

“Put your hand in the hand of the one…”

Jesus—as he is dying—
commends himself
—his soul
—the marrow of his bones
into God’s hands.
The hands of the One
who delivered from the womb of creation 
dolphins and dandelions,
marsupials and marigolds

The hands of the One
who ripped apart seas
to make a freedom way.

The hands of the One
who gathered up earthy dust

“We are the clay; you are the potter.
We are all the work of your hands.”

What if God’s work—
continues beyond crucifixion
in our hands?

Gentle hands that put Hello Kitty band aids on skinned knees.
Arthritic hands that knit or build or garden through pain.

Large hands that hold tiny hands as first steps are taken.
Hands that set music free from pianos or organs or guitars.

Hands that calm with a touch or write with a flair or feed with a fierce desire that none will go hungry.

Hands that serve or wash or repair. Hands that resist with everything in them other hands that with clenched fist or the stroke of a pen or the push of a button mark the world with violence and hatred—

God, the Potter.
We, the clay.

Our hands—
the work of God’s hands.

“Into your hands, I commend my Spirit.”

Do we?
entrust our lives—
our well-being—
our thoughts and feelings and wildest imaginings

Do we commend
our contingent existence
the whole of our radical temporariness–
Do we commend all of it—i
nto God’s hands?

Too many too soon forget this—
life’ uncompromising impermanence.
Or perhaps we are all too aware of it— 
So we live in fear.

React to others with fear.
Soak faith in the bitter herbs of fear.
Cling to what little postmortem knowledge we have with
clenched hands animated by a redacted hermeneutic of fear. 

But Jesus—in the end—

After splashing up out of Jordan’s waters
After calming seas and eating with tax collectors

But Jesus—in the end–

After refusing to be made king
After holding children in his arms
After breaking and blessing and giving

Here—Jesus—crucified—dying
—even here:

“Into your hands I commend my spirit.”

“And having said this, he breathed his last.”

Jesus died.
A childhood prayer on his lips.
Words of his mama’s faith—
Words learned as sun was setting
on growing up days of laughter and play
now slipping from weary body. 

“Into your hands I commend my Spirit.”

Last words.
Intimate words.
Breathed out to the Holy One
who breathed into him the breath of life.
Breathed out to the Holy One
who breathed into all creation—
into you and me
the breath of life.

“Into your hands I commend my spirit.”

Do we?