Passion Week moves through all kinds of emotion: from the celebration parade of Palm Sunday to the sorrow of violent death on Good Friday to the surprise of resurrection on Easter Sunday.
Life too is a mixed bag. There are psalms of lament and there are psalms of praise. There are days we mourn death, brokenness, and pain. There are days we celebrate birth, healing, and pleasure. Sometimes in fact they are mixed up with each other. Sometimes in the midst of suffering there are the best parties. We are “dancing in the dragon’s jaws!”
I entered the Lent season with some weariness and despondency this year. Therefore, I decided to do something different this year than give up chocolate or dessert. (I have enjoyed some almost every day of Lent!) I decided to give up wallowing and do something cheery and positive for someone every day. It’s been good for me.
Sometimes people like me say that positivity and celebration in the midst of suffering and death, trivializes the pain, but that is not necessarily the case. We acknowledge that not all is right with the world, but we can put on the “garment of praise” in the midst of that. Just for a moment we are transported to another realm where death and crying and pain shall be no more. We are present to all our passions and the passion of our Lord.
Praise and deep celebration is a healing balm. Sometimes such praise is an act of the will. As I turn my will I am drawn into praise by the presence of my faith community who shares my pain but also lifts me up out of my self-deprecation. I can hardly form the words, but as my feet begin to move and my body begins to sway to the rhythm of the people and the music around me I am transformed by the presence of the Spirit.
We are wretched. We are lost. We are in darkness. God is absent. Yet out of that abyss we cry. And a cry, even of absence, is the cry of faith towards the Faithful One. We celebrate the light even though we see it not. We party the kingdom even though it seems only a mustard seed. Even though my soul is knotted and numb it can unravel with praise. I want to be present to all the passions of Passion Week: the pain, the pleasure, and even the mundane.