It’s the second half of Holy Week. Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday stand between me and Easter – the path through the dark woods of my soul. I didn’t grow up in churches that observed these dark days; we went from Palm Sunday to Easter, sometimes with a Wednesday Bible study of the crucifixion, sometimes not. The sanctuary and Sunday school room crosses were always empty: why would anyone put the risen Jesus back on the cross? The resurrection already happened and there was no going back.
I understand why my childhood churches had no crucifixes, and why they emphasized celebration and victory rather than the suffering of Jesus in the garden and the grisly way he died. I can’t say that the people in those churches were any more or less faithful, any kinder or colder – the path of faith runs through all neighborhoods. But I do think something of the human condition was skipped over rather than faced – not about Jesus, but about the rest of humanity. While I hate to admit it, I doubt I’d do any better than the flawed, fragile people who stood by while Jesus died. Most everyone ran away, avoiding the whole scene. A few women and John the beloved disciple managed to stay and hear the final few words from the cross. This reveals more about myself than I usually care to see or admit. I’m no better than anyone else, and I’m just as likely to run away as anyone else. Given the right circumstances, just enough fear for my life, I would betray Jesus, too.
Holy Week isn’t a time to indulge in self loathing: it’s a time to take a long, hard look at myself – faults, strengths, and the whole mixed bag I call my inner and outer life. If I’m honest about what I see, I’ll ask for God to hold my hand as I walk this world. If I’m not, I just might fool myself into thinking I can make the walk alone.
Take my hand, O Lord, and walk with me through these dark days and nights. I need you. Amen.