It's Palm Sunday morning and I'm at home, thinking about my dear friend Lisa and about her profound question a couple of posts back in response to my desire to insulate myself from Easter: Do we have to be ready? Why do we feel that we need to be ready?
A question asked on occasion in spiritual direction, in the context of the Mary and Martha story, to someone who readily identifies with Martha:
What does that mean, that you would ask Jesus to sit on the porch and wait while you finished raking the leaves and spreading the mulch and putting your tools away? What does it say that you would suggest that he go out in the living room and spend time with your other guests while you finish preparing the meal?
And the extension of the question, to someone whose circumstances are more dire: What does it mean, that you simply remove yourself from the picture rather than risk the interaction?
Grief is certainly one of the most, if not the most, self-absorbing of experiences. It strangles joy, anticipation, pleasure in the ordinary. It makes it difficult to listen to a friend's recounting of a daughter-in-law's pregnancy. It makes a church service in which children wave palm branches and shout "Hosanna!" an unbearable prospect.
But what does that mean, that you cannot find it in yoursef to be one of the celebrants? Or even a quiet observer?
If it were 2000 years ago and noisy and happy crowds were thronging the streets, would you be curled up on a bed in a back room, wising they would just move on?
What would it take to get you outside again? Just to watch? And if you were somehow about to manage that, what would you see?
Perhaps a glimpse of the one solitary person who knows what you carry in your heart? The heart that the first reading of Lent reminded you is broken beyond repair and scattered beyond reach?
Perhaps you would see someone who knows about that. Someone who is also enduring the celebratory chaos in the knowledge that it masks a pervasive darkness that has to be encountered in order to be conquered.
Perhaps your vision is becoming infinitesimally more accurate.