Thursday, April 17, 2014

Donuts on the Desk, A Glass of Water, and A Human God

So, not that I have so many blog followers to notice, but I didn't really update as I said I would during my 40 days of Living Consciously. I'm not a very consistent person. I'd like to spin that and say that my spontaneity and unpredictability is one of my greatest charms, but truly it is often a great weakness. However, while I did not post very much during this time, I would like to highlight the following moments:

Every Friday my advisees and I have "Food Fridays" for which someone brings in donuts or cookies or some other kind of Food for breakfast. So, my advisees brought in two giant boxes of donuts and there were a ton of them left. Andthe box ended up sitting on my desk all day. Every now and then a student in another class would ask for some, but there remained a significant amount of donuts on my desk pretty much all day. At the end of the day my two favorite kinds of donuts remained. And I didn't have one. That was a pretty memorable challenge of these forty days. But it made me think that sometimes, if you face your fears and challenges by just placing them right there on the table, they actually become more manageable. As opposed to avoiding them or hiding them, then when they rear their ugly head you are caught off guard. Isn't there a saying "keep your friends close, your enemies closer?" Perhaps a temptation on the table keeps you much more conscious. 

This may seem like a silly observation, one of those "duh, who doesn't know that" kind of situations. But drinking water solves a lot of issues. I know this because I don't drink enough water and I have a lot of issues. It should seem an easy routine, wake up in the morning, drink a full glass of water. But I cannot seem to make that my daily routine and I know I need to. On the days that I was more conscious, I DID drink a full glass of water before anything (well, sometimes the dog won't let me even get that before his walk). And I always felt better. Water is a precious gift and I need to always make "hydrate" a morning mantra, a real, attainable and healthy one.

So we are coming to the end of the Lenten Season. It culminates in my absolutely favorite bundle of three Mega-Masses known as The Triduum: Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Vigil. I feel so fortunate to be in an awesome and active choir, because although I will spend more time in church these next three days than I have in the last four months, I will have the opportunity to sing some really lovely and meaningful songs.

Holy Thursday is by far my favorite of the three Mega-Masses. And I was actually thinking deeply tonight about why I like it so much. I'm sure it started back in 1974 when I had my First Communion and I was chosen with 11 classmates to have our First Eucharist at the Holy Thursday Mass. We sat on the altar like 12 little disciples. This was clearly the beginning of my desire for full and creative participation in the Mass. Yay, for the progressive priests of SCB in Cinnaminson. I don't think they ever did that again, but it was a pretty impressionable moment for me, and likely the origin of my love for that holy day.

However, there is a great deal more to my affection than nostalgia. The realness of the humanity of Christ is what makes the Holy Thursday Mass so poignant to me. That Jesus calls us to serve one another in the symbol of washing one another's feet is incredibly powerful. Tonight, at our new parish, they do the foot washing with three different stations and anyone who wants to get their feet washed just goes on up there, but in return they wash the feet of the next person. And while my 15 year-old had said, "I'm not touching anyone's feet", I looked out from choir and saw my 8 year-old have the courage to get her feet washed by a stranger and then, in return wash another person's feet. Got a little choked up, must say. I find that idea of serving as the ultimate show of a true leader, most powerful.

Holy Thursday also has the heightened awareness of the Eucharist. Again a really powerful symbol of sacrifice, unity, communion. We recognize Christ living in and among us in the Eucharist. We recognize that we are all called to have Christ's love nourish us, and we in turn must be willing to be Christ for others. I know that Roman Catholic communion practices can seem very odd and voodoo. But truthfully, the theatricality of it all has always been what has made it the most real for me.

Above all, when I reflect upon Holy Thursday, I think of how the Mass closes in all that Roman pagan incense and pomp, carrying the Eucharist around with an ancient Latin chant, but then the Eucharist comes to rest in a small chapel. No closing song-- so as to mark no real "end" to the sacrifice. And then you can sit in silence there, in simplicity, you and Jesus, contemplating, praying, the way he did the night of his betrayal and arrest. This is when I feel we see the most human Jesus, the Jesus who says "If this cup could pass me by, I'd be quite ok with that, but your will be done." He experiences sorrow, betrayal, denial. He is faced with mortality. And he's scared. And I love this Jesus because he is real, and calls us to be real for one another.