This past Lent I thought I made an agreement with myself to enter into all the ceremonies of that six-weeks season of suffering, and then to reward myself, after the dismal rites of Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday (but I do like the foot washing!), Good (so-called) Friday, Holy Saturday, and the Stations of the Cross, with the glorious resurrection of Easter.
Well, the best-laid plans. I couldn’t do it. After Palm Sunday and the wonderfully disorganized procession of the various congregations around the Plaza (The Episcopalians were the best), I had to admit defeat.
Something in me just can’t stomach the Crucifixion. I realized that when I was asked to empathize with Mary’s suffering as she watched her son nailed on the cross.
Why did she just watch, weep and wail?
We are never supposed to ask that question.
I always have difficulty emphasizing with women, whether holy or not, who can’t seem to do anything to divert tragedy. I include myself in that helpless throng.
But isn’t it possible, even in terms of the Crucifixion, to imagine another outcome?
What if Mary and the other women had incited the few remaining disciples to mutiny, attack the soldiers, and tear the suffering man down?
Well, they would have been killed, probably, but still it seems that to make that heroic effort would almost have been worth it…
Now I have to admit to anther impediment to my belief: I don’t think I’m capable of worshiping a crucified man, even if he is the Son of God.
This must be blasphemy, or if it’s not, it should be.
Men, women and children, all the children of God, are being crucified daily all over the world.
Yes, Jesus chose to submit, and these suffering throngs of immigrants, now closed out of the European countries where they were trying to flee the disgraceful warfare in Syria, surely did not choose their fate.
But again, my feelings for self-chosen suffering are, to say the least, complex. And especially self-chosen suffering on the part of a man who then brought suffering to his many followers, and especially to his mother.
I think I am more capable of worshiping the Original Egg that altered the course of Mary’s life (and in some of the Renaissance paintings, she looks less than overjoyed to hear the angel’s news.)
We celebrated in my garden with about thirty friends. Actually, the celebration began the day before when three close friends and I dyed about forty eggs and decorated little brown paper bags to use to collect them.
Then, Sunday afternoon, as the sun finally came out and the temperature began to rise, after a windy, stormy, freezing week, the guests began to scamper around to look for the eggs we had hidden in flower beds, under bushes—as well as the prize egg, deeply hidden in a thicket.
The woman who found the prize egg (with a little help) won the beautiful basket of chocolates a dear friend had concocted, which her twelve-year-old twins would devour.
After the hunt, we all gathered for High Tea which my good friend Richard and his helpers had put together, and served: Karen’s delicate rooibos tea –I learned that where it originated, in Africa, it is called Bush Tea—tiny sandwiches of chicken, cucumber, salmon, cupcakes the size of a thumb with pink and blue frosting.
What a celebration and not a crucifixion anywhere to be seen.
Most of my friends have been with me now for more than two decades, and we are showing the signs of wear. One dear musician gamely went after eggs on two walking sticks, another musician friend had his arm in a sling, and everyone was having a little more difficulty getting up and down the garden steps.
But we are together. That’s all that matters. And from now on—I think, who knows?—my celebration of Egg Day will replace all the gloom and suffering of the Christian season.