Sunday, March 31, 2013

i hear the sound of wrap your arms around me

John chewed on his McDonalds sedar meal and wished to God that Judas would just dip his bread in the dish already, excuse himself politely, and then make like a banana and split.
He met Simeon's eyes, just as annoyed as his.
Simeon, a stickler for etiquette, deplored uninvited guests who outstayed their welcome.
"I am in no humor at present to give consequence to the histrionics of children," said Jude, just loud enough for half the table to understand; and for the other half to half-hear and wonder what was said.

Peter was oblivious ("typical," thought James the Lesser) to the melodramatic interpersonal squabbling occurring among his dinner companions. 
His brow furrowed, scarfing down french fries, he hung onto every word of his master.
"Where you go, Lord, I will go too," he insisted.
"Can you drink the cup I am going to drink, Peter?" Christ gently challenged.
Peter looked down at the waxed paper cup of diet Coca-Cola, and thought it didn't look all that bad.


Study abroad is the art of fully living out the Chesterton quote, of which I will now quote half, because I'm too lazy to quote all of it: (oops.) an adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. (Bolded it, 'cause it's important.)
Sometimes, things happen like, oh, I don't know, hypothetically like maybe getting just a teeny bit lost in Central London at 2am by yourself (this one's between you and me, y'all. Don't tell my mom).
Or, for instance, overnight stays in Rome, Milan, or Zurich airports.
Or my friends' classic story of being stranded in a Pisa café overnight.
As one of my flatmates is fond of saying: "everything's always a disaster; but it all works out in the end."
She is so spot on. 
Although we've been taking trains, planes, and automobiles all over Europe this semester, our numero uno mode of transportation is always the struggle bus.
"This is one to tell the grandkids," I always say after a particularly amusing/hazardous misadventure.



One looks at the cross and wants to cry out: NO. Find a different way, one where you get hurt much less, you idiot. 
For I am pigeon-livered, and cannot bear to see the pain in which I am complicit; his punishment which brings us peace.  
But Mary's response was, from the first moment, always a YES.
I wonder if that Yes came back as a sword to pierce her heart.


As I walked into St. Peter's Basilica, for the celebration of the Lord's Passion on Good Friday, a lump developed in my throat.
This is definitely one to tell the grandkids, I thought.
I wondered if I would ever tell the grandkids this particular story of this particular Good Friday.
I thought of all the stories of Via Dolorosas and Golgathas that are never told.
For all the painful, tearful confessions that reach our ears, for every tale of tragedy and heartbreak, there are five million more that are lost in silence--stories that their owners never get to share.



There is something deeper here than flashbulbs and incense. Something that ipads and flipcams somehow cannot grasp.
The smell that instantly conjures up images of the Easter Vigil is always the smell of candle wax burning.
"pour into me his light unshadowed, that I may sing this candle's perfect praises."
This is the feast for all those lightbearers.

But, maybe, that's why each year, we tell this story.
Because, inside that story are all our stories; clinging to that cross are all our miniature crosses.
Maybe the grandkids will never hear about the sunny Good Friday in Rome, or about the anxious, hopeful, excited waiting in the rain for the Easter Vigil, or for the celebratory Easter morning, sloppy in the sheer amount of joy.
Maybe they'll never hear those stories.
But I hope that each time the paschal mystery rolls around, here in the heart of the year, they learn what it means to die and rise again.
I hope they learn the surprising truth that the Resurrection is the most shocking thing to have happened in the history of the world.
And it's also the most perfectly expected.
Because our own stories play in the same key of that two thousand year old tune of death and resurrection. 


We dived through a cloud, the sunset at our heels, lighting up the cottony gossamer field with sparks of gold; strands and shards of soft snowy cloud-fabric streaming past us; a Via Dolorosa brilliantly baptized in fire.
There are some moments that take your breath away with their sheer magic.

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