Most of us can tell about an experience when we received the news; where we were and what we were doing when a certain event occurred…..the September 11 attacks, the Columbine massacre, or the Oklahoma City bombing.
When the news is personal, the sudden loss of a loved one or a devastating diagnosis, time seems to stand still; heart begins to race, lungs burn from withholding breath, sight narrows to a pinpoint, knees weaken. The news sinks down into the gut and the mind blurs with incomprehension and grapples for meaning, seeking something, anything that makes sense.
Soon, blessed numbness seeps in….relief for the physical pain caused by such intense heart-breaking devastation. Normal functioning switches to autopilot… sit here, walk there, answer the questions, put on a socially acceptable face, eat if you must, sleep if you can, breathe, repeat.
And then after the world as you once knew it has ended, alone in private gloom, you realize everyone else is oblivious, moving through their daily routines.
STOP! STOP LAUGHING AND LOVING AND LIVING! How can the rest of the world continue as if nothing has changed?
The news happens in different ways for each one of us, but live long enough and eventually, the news will arrive. The truth is, we are all walking wounded.
My Lenten journey was full of uncertainty this year and it has been an experience of personal wilderness. While I am still processing the meaning of it, now, before I am fully prepared, before the yearned-for God-inspiration could shower upon me, even after I practiced Lenten patience and kept vigil, the days have passed and we are in the middle of holy week. I’m not ready for the news. I know what is coming, and I am Just. Not. Ready.
STOP EVERYTHING! STOP LAUGHING AND LOVING AND LIVING! Something TERRIBLE is about to happen! Jesus is going to DIE.
Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, knowing what was ahead. I imagine that He greeted those on the dusty path as they cheered and waved palms. Was He buoyed with God-inspiration, strengthened for the days of passion to come? Did He have some measure of nervous unpreparedness? Surely He knew this would lead to suffering, but He LAUGHED with them and He LOVED them; he LIVED fully with them in spite of the news.
A gathering for an evening meal; prayers, broken bread, poured wine, precious gifts for the soon-to-be walking wounded. Jesus forewarned them, his closest friends, but they did not, could not understand. Not until the events all too rapidly unfolded and He was headed to Golgotha.
The last words, the last breath, the darkened sky, the curtain in the temple torn apart.
They were bewildered with desolation, hearts racing and weak-kneed in confusion as they observed in helpless disbelief, and clutched the base of a wretched cross, and fled in fear. There was no making sense of it.
Numbness. Sit here, walk there, answer the questions, put on a socially acceptable face, eat if you must, sleep if you can, breathe, repeat.
How to continue as if nothing has changed?