My calendar for this week has notes scrawled across it. Things like, "Committee Meeting: 7:30," "Kindergarten Open House: 5:30," and "Grade One Drama Workshop: 12:30." And then lined up in my head is a list that needs to get checked off this week: return library books; email so-and-so to ask about borrowing a book; buy surprises for the kids' Easter baskets; fill out the hot lunch form for school (oh, and get cash to send with it); wash the van; laundry (this one seems to never get crossed off); groceries; order a birthday gift for my nephew (whose birthday was a month ago).
I helped my daughters pick out their clothes for the week on Sunday night. They only needed four outfits because spring break starts on Friday. That missing stack of clothes at the end of the line felt like a ray of hope--we just have to make it to Friday and then we get a break. On Friday, no alarm to wake us up. No lunches to be packed. No rushing the kids to get their coats on so we can get out the door.
Please, sweet Friday, come quickly. We need you. I can sense it when I watch my daughter and her friends, when I see the weariness on their teachers' faces and the dogged determination of the parents at drop-off. We're ready for a break.
We just have to make it to Friday. We just have to dig deep, tighten our grip for a few more days, and make it to Friday.
But underneath all of this, there's something else going on. It's not just the week before spring break. It's Holy Week: the great paradox of the Church calendar. A week we begin with shouts of "Hosanna" as the children parade through the church waving palm branches, but end by joining our voices with the crowd crying, "Crucify Him!" in a dimly lit sanctuary. It can feel a bit like spiritual whip lash.
This year Holy Week kind of snuck up on me. And when I realized what was happening, the worn down part of me might have sighed and whispered, "Seriously?" I have a list of the things I "should" do to mark this week, to enter into its depths.
Wait. That's a lie.
What I have is a feeling that I should have a list of things I should do to mark this week. But I don't. What I have is a list of ordinary stuff that I just want to get done so that we can start our break and have a good Easter.
But. Here's the rub. I know we can't really celebrate on Easter Sunday unless we've walked though Good Friday. We can hunt for eggs, watch the kids get excited over new trinkets, and indulge in chocolate. But we miss out on how deep and wide and far and long this celebration is if we gloss over Friday.
Good Friday asks us to look at the darkness and the sin and the death that are part of our Story and our stories. It demands that we remember that there is no such thing as cheap grace. Not a very easy or convenient thing to do, especially when we were hoping Friday would simply be about sleeping in.
In Luke's gospel, immediately after Jesus enters Jerusalem to shouts of praise, he weeps for the city. He weeps for this people who missed that God was in their midst. "You did not recognize the time of your visitation from God," he says. That line struck me while I listened to the scripture reading in church on Sunday.
How often do I miss God's visitation? How often is God in the midst of what I'm doing, but all I can see is my own stuff, my own agenda, my own busy week that I just want to get through?
How often do I miss God because God doesn't fit into my image of who God should be?
How often do I miss God because what God might be doing or asking me to do is inconvenient?
What would it take, during this week that I had intended to simply trudge through, to notice God's visitation?
Holy Week wants to reorient me. It asks me to see life through the lens of the cross. To recognize Jesus around me--Jesus who wept over Jerusalem, Jesus who broke bread with the types of people I tend to judge, Jesus who cared more about people than to-do lists, Jesus who died a gruesome death as part of God's work to make all things new.
But am I willing to let my week, my life, be reoriented?