Saturday, March 22, 2008

Holy Saturday, Easter Sunday

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An Easter Gift

This year, the sun and the moon have ordered their steps such that the Vernal Equinox and the full moon almost perfectly coincide and the liturgical calendar celebrates the ascendancy of the light about as early in the year as it may.

I mark the feast days of the Earth, the Sun, the Moon, and the Christian holy days of my childhood: Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter Sunday. It has been Lent, the Sunday of Holy week full of an ominous joy, the days that follow, bitter. Indeed a friend has told me that my words recently have been joyless (I, who have always said that joy is the root of our power.) We live disempowering times — and Holy Thursday, Good Friday are holy days of betrayal, of pain, of torture.

But Holy Saturday is here, the end of Lent imminent. Since a child, I have always remembered it as a day yellow with sun, and at noon, at that time, the church bells would ring, marking the killed god’s harrowing of hell, the setting free of the souls of our parents Adam and Eve and of the just, the compassionate, there held. A glorious thing, this triumph of good over evil, of the light over the darkness, of hope over despair — and spring is here. A glorious thing, and in the Spanish world, it is known as Saturday of Glory.

The day following is Easter, sunnier yet if that were possible. We woke to the marvel of the eggs we had painstakingly dyed the evening before, to getting into our splendid new clothes we would piously show off in the cathedral at 11:00 o’clock mass brilliant with the rainbow lights that poured though the stained glass windows and colored the smoke of the incense, and, I imagined, the very sound of the choir singing their glorias. Gloria! Gloria! Gloria! The light has triumphed, the god is risen! Gloria! Gloria! Gloria!




And it was a time for gifts as well, clothes and pieces of jewelry, at the very least, eggs. (One Easter I gave my mother a very special gift, a little gold cross with a diamond chip at the center which, as an altar-boy serving High Mass, I had asked the bishop to bless.) Gifts were one of the great joys of Easter, not receiving, but rather making them. (Often, in every meaning of the word.)

That was childhood, young adulthood even, but even yet, this is a time of light, of joy, of hope, even in these dark times. You have listened to, read my words, my dark gifts to you this past week or so, and I would give you on this Easter something more shining, of beauty, of truth, of justice, of compassion, of hope.

Often I wished I could have heard Jesus speaking of justice and compassion and the lilies of the field or advising the well-meaning rich young man, stood rapt among the crowd at the foot of the hill, or followed close in the narrow streets of Jerusalem for the sound of his voice. I imagine having a recording of the Teacher’s voice to give you on this day. But that voice (still winging its way across the universe, science tells us) is now beyond our hearing. Instead, I offer give you another voice, one that echoes the teachings of the Nazarene as I understand them.

When you find, or make, a half hour to give, to take my gift, with a click or two, open the egg. The truth, the commitment to justice, the compassion, the hope expressed are ours — if we choose to make them so.

----------------------------------bless —
----------------------------------------------Rafael Jesús González


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