Holy Week is hard. That may seem an overly simple statement for a priest to make. After all, Easter, Resurrection is at the center of our faith. And this week leading up to it is full: full of weighty symbols, full of meaning, full of Church, full of work. More sermons to write, more liturgies to plan, more prayers to pray.
We all walk through Holy Week differently. We bring our own expectations and memories with us.
For me, it’s not just the Good Friday in college where my own personal experience of Easter came early as I felt this indescribable joy while walking to Church and watching the early signs of spring. Or the first Easter Vigil I went to and begged a ride home from. Or all of the other memory slivers that pile together.
My memories of one Holy Week are bold against all of that.
My third brain surgery occurred 12 days before Easter. Surgery itself went well and I was, all things considered, healing quickly.
But I remember sitting in the Chapel on Maundy Thursday knowing that, had I had the energy, I wouldn’t have been able to access the footwashing stations.
I remember watching the Chapel doors swing close from my window across the street, because I was still too tired to cross the street and attend Good Friday services.
I remember sitting in the pews for the Easter Vigil, amazed at the sounds I was hearing. Singing like nothing I’d ever experienced.
Bound up in these memories, still, Holy Week is about alienation and newness.
Perhaps these memories sit more fully, more weightily during Holy Week because here at the conclusion of a season that begins, “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return” and ends with betrayal, denial, loneliness, and death (before the Easter Resurrection), there is almost space for these sorts of memories.
Here is the Jesus who doesn’t miraculously heal, but stumbles and needs Simon of Cyrene.
Here is Jesus as alone and unsure in Gethsemane.
Here horrific, painful events are unfolding and God’s action is to wait. Not to be absent, but not to intervene.
Here these memories are not so strange. Here these parts, and all of their echoes, of my story fit in.
Holy Week is hard.