I start at Our Lady of Grace just before noon. It's unadorned and empty, a shell of the life which normally fills it. Still I am drawn, still I seek. The room fills up early with other seekers, who walk into their familiar, cozy home to find nothingness and sorrowful black cloth. The red candle is not lit, there is no holy water. Over two thousand years ago, the nails would be hammered about now and the cross raised up, on the rocky hill next to the two others.
For what is this sacrifice? For the people in this room? Yes, but so many more. Perhaps even more for the many more. It's those faces I think of today, those faces who make me cry. Is that why you were crying, Lord? Because the human part of you didn't understand why they didn't or wouldn't love you? Did your humanity feel rejected as we sometimes do? These are the thoughts that fill my heart as I walk up to venerate the Cross, and place my lips on the palm of his broken hand. These are the thoughts that fill my mind as I eat of his flesh and drink of his blood. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb. Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.
After, I travel to the Oblate's labyrinth for my annual walk (I walk on occasion on other days, but always on Good Friday). Taize chants and Lenten hymns travel with me via Spotify.
When I walk up to the labyrinth, it seems so big, laid out before me. It's almost overwhelming except I know and trust that I will be guided. With the first step comes confidence: I don't know where I'm going or where I am on each curve in relation to the whole, but I know I cannot be lost. It's a lot like life, and a lot like faith.
It's hot and dusty on the slab. When a cloud or a breeze comes, it's a relief. I walk from light to dark and dappled light in between, because of the beautiful oaks which surround one side of the labyrinth. The bells toll twice, startling me in my silence. Shortly after, I hear the hammering of nails from a construction site across the street and it makes me wince. I shake my hands out, unnerved, and keep walking until I reach the center. I find a petal spot and sit.
Leaves, like grace, swirl around me in the breeze. Green creation is all around, sharing my stillness.
He's been hanging there for over two hours now, by three nails. Skin rent open, every breeze I feel as relief, he would have felt as searing pain across open wounds. There is no escape from the sun or the pain. Every breath is a torture, but His thoughts stay on His mission, His father, and their love. My thoughts stay on Him.
Even for these, Father, I imagined Him saying. And even for me, who has done so many things dreadful in your sight, Lord, but still can feel your love. It fills my eyes with tears and my heart with hope that I can rest in you, Lord, when at last you call me home. I'm weeping now, in the center of the labyrinth but really at the foot of the Cross where I often seem to be, begging for mercy.
The sweetest, tiniest hummingbird zooms past at that moment and into a tree, then across to a rose, and out to see why I am disturbing its work, like the Holy Spirit among the faithful, pouring out feelings and impulses we sometimes answer but often brush off like so much dust.
I'm waiting for the three bells to toll. Like Mary, wanting it to end but not wanting it to end. Wondering what to do... after. Knowing the answer to that question is in essence our journey, the labyrinth of our lives. Where do I go, Lord? What do you wish me to do? Will I feel the veil torn in my heart? Will I feel the earth quake within me?
The bells toll -- one, two three. The Hour of Mercy has come. The Great Silence begins while the world awaits her savior. I begin my walk out of the labyrinth to wait for coming of the Paschal Fire.