And now we wait...

(Photo by Beverly Van Horne)

Whether it's something good, bad, or unknown in our lives--or even Holy Saturday--Tom Petty was right. "You take it on faith, you take it to the heart, the way-yay-ting is the hardest part."

We sure do a lot of waiting in the church year.

In Advent, we hear of the Incarnation and await a birth, hoping something new is born in us. Even before that, when we were in that "long green season" of time after Pentecost, we couldn't wait to get the green paraments out of the chancel and off the altar, and bring on the blue ones of Advent. After Christmas, we wait for the Magi and Epiphany. In Lent, we distract ourselves from waiting for Holy Week by keeping busy with an additional spiritual discipline. On Maundy Thursday, we have that uneasy wait until Good Friday in that "this can't be good" sort of way. We then enter the Triduum with confused anticipation. We wait in the darkness but cling to the light. Waiting in the desert for 40 days wasn't enough--now we wait in the darkness, unsure of what the future holds.

We take it on faith, we take it to the heart. The way-yay-ting IS the hardest part.

What are we waiting for? We don't know. As much as we want to, it's just generally not revealed to us.

As you all know, every cycle 'round the church year is different for me. I find myself fascinated that what seems the "same" can actually be very different. Only the framework is the same. I thought back this morning to an old, old memory, and it connected me to Holy Saturday in a new way. I realized that for me, Holy Saturday was a lot like that Sunday before the first day of school. I knew that when I got there, it would be ok, but I was chafing that the summer was no longer "mine." I knew I'd love learning new things. I knew I'd be glad to see some of my friends again that I didn't connect with as frequently during the summer. I knew I'd be wiser and more "the person I was growing up to be." But I still "just didn't want to go." I didn't want to give up the freedom of summer, I didn't want to give up the long days and the green pastures where my imagination fueled my playtime. I knew to step across that threshold to the door of the school meant the leaves were going to turn brown and fall, the snow would come, the days of getting up to catch the bus in the dark and the cold would be here before we knew it. In short, the seasons would change and I would change, and summer always gave me the delusion I could stop time and stop death.

Yet I would be changed in good ways, too. But I didn't want to think about that. I wanted to hold the delusion. But when that year finished, I knew it overall had been good for me, and I WAS becoming "that person I was meant to be." I just didn't want to wait for that.

We take it on faith, we take it to the heart. The way-yay-ting IS the hardest part.

I also had an interesting thought during our Good Friday service as we went up to get the Reserved Sacrament. Another old, old, repeatable memory popped into my head. It was that moment when "you get home from the funeral." So many times in my life, I have repeated this drill. Ever notice, when everyone gets home from the funeral, first we change into our jeans, and then we sort of look at all that food people brought us...all those leftovers. Although we're not hungry, we start picking at the food. We're not hungry. Part of us wants to go off in the corner and sob, and part of us wants to pick a fight with some relative for being a jerk, and part of us wants to just be left alone. But there's no room in the house to be left alone, so people sort of sit and pick at the food.

Then something happens. We start talking. It moves from the details of the service and the details of the legal crap that's going to have to be dealt with--changing names on accounts, cashing in insurance policies, giving stuff away or signing it over--to stories. Funny stories. Sad stories. Stories that you thought were secret that turned out not to be so secret. Stories where you never knew "the other half" of the story. The gloom hasn't totally dissipated, but it temporarily gives way to discovery and hope...and in that moment, we start realizing there WILL be a life beyond this mess, some day it will be put behind us, and some things will feel brand new and exciting.

As I chewed on the Reserve Sacrament, I thought about how the disciples and Mary and Mary Magdalene must have felt just like that, hiding in the upper room, going out mostly at night to avoid being discovered, venturing into town only when necessary. There had to be a lot of fear in that room. There probably wasn't much to do but pick at the food, and tell stories. They probably told stories that made them laugh and cry and learn "the other half" of the stories they knew. Mary might have unloaded on the things Jesus did as a little boy that freaked her out--that he was so smart, and so connected to God, and how impossible it seemed to rear that little boy. In the stories, they saw how much they missed him. They wanted to tell him all the things they "didn't do right by," as we say in these parts.

But as they picked at the food, they grew stronger, and thought about there really would be a tomorrow. They didn't know how they were going to manage it, but somehow they would. Who could imagine the story that was about to happen, though, that they would be telling?

We take it on faith, we take it to the heart. The way-yay-ting IS the hardest part.