“Doubts are the ants in the pants of faith.”

Fred Buechner


       “Good Friday,” an odd name for this day. If you go to church today, you know the day is observed as solemn, and for obvious reasons. In the course of 24 hours, Jesus was abandoned by his friends who loved and believed in Him. He chose not to use the magical powers he used to walk (on water) to walk the heck out of the brutally painful situation that awaited Him, as most every one of us  would do. Instead, He accepted his friends’ shortcomings, loss of faith, betrayal and chose to live out the fate of unfolding doom and gloom.

       Heartbreak.  Nonsensical sadness.  What do we do with these emotions? An early blog talked about the tendency to ask “why?” At a young person’s funeral, I once heard a response to this unanswerable “why.” It was this: “When you can’t explain, proclaim.”  Often, there is no explaining.  

        Yesterday, I saw a minister got teary-eyed about that sacrifice, reminding us that Jesus was human throughout these days, and He felt the pain as fully as we would. He felt the tremendous hurt of lack of support and betrayal by those closest to Him. He felt the searing pain of lashings and of not understanding why He was being called to what felt like such a horrific end to His story.

        Some degree of these feelings resonates for all of us. We’ve all experienced hopelessness. A long cancer battle ends in death, the good guy gets usurped, we watch someone we love go from fully alive to fully not there (and by the way, where?).

       We have all experienced rough days. (Or rough lives, where it all just seems pretty depressing, and, like, well, everyone is just gonna die in the end anyway.) What do we do with that kind of defeated attitude? I once heard Gil Bowen from Kenilworth Union Church preach on the lesson of waiting three days. Breathe deep, and know that at the essence of the Easter story, when on a Friday afternoon things can seem as discouraging and unjust as can be, we can have a total change of heart and hope. In a just a few days’ time. We just have to hang on.

       The Easter story gives us a model of what we do, not if, but when, we experience excruciating loss, betrayal, or separation. Meditation, time in nature, exercise, music, breathwork, focused living: there are many ways to quiet the mind and set the stage to listen.  We wait patiently before we respond mindfully, with faith and space between stimulus and response.

       Three stories below are emblematic of pain and grief, signatures of Good Friday:  

        First, the Notre Dame fire. Notice fear represented in the image above. Haunting gargoyles, meant to fend off evil spirits, instead watch and witness fire and devastation to a century place of worship and the relics therein.

     Second, a reflection (click on the word reflection to read,) from an Episcopalian rector on the personal significance of the Oklahoma City bombing, an event that occurred 24 years ago today.  Do you remember it? I do. It was just weeks after my own father’s sudden death. Amazing how pain can resonate, this day especially.

       And last, a clip from The Passion of the Christ, Mel Gibson’s movie on Christ’s crucifixion. The movie, brutally realistic, intentionally portrays the Easter story in full color. (The clip below is an easier one, but still represents some of the pain endured. There are some unbearable scenes. The Passion broke many hearts.)  

On this day, practice sitting with the grief. A mindful approach is to accept the darkness, knowing that the Light will soon break through but not running from or denying the dark. It is not easy, the proverbial deep end of a Lenten meditation.

Breathe, forgive, and be comfortable sitting in the presence of uncomfortable emotions. Observe your response. No better way to understand than to remember the Easter story this Good Friday.

This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. Beth

    Really love this Elinor. Easy to forget when in a painful situation that it does pass. I try to tell my kids that.. it feels bad in the moment but wait and it will pass. I usually try and pray thru those times and know it will get better.

  2. RT

    Since I will be traveling I may not be able to post on the 40th day so here goes. You should be so proud of yourself with this project. You brought happiness to your readers and the quality of your writing was sublime. You clearly put allot of effort into this and as someone who read each one I would like to thank you. RT

    1. 40waysofpeace

      thanks old friend, means a lot. always have appreciated your writing support. today, btw, is day 45 i believe. who knew lent was quite so long! thnx for spending it here. safe travels~God bless~

  3. Francesca

    I never watched The Passion (even though at the time of filming Mel Gibson was living in Rome while we were there, too, and his kids were at my kids’ school!) because I feared it would be too difficult to watch. This one little clip was so moving. One of these days I will get up the courage to watch it in its entirety. And I remember Gil Bowen, too — wonderful preacher!

  4. Mae Mae

    Perfect perspective today.

  5. Melinda

    Love the ‘resurrection’ Of Gil Bowen’s sermon. He had many gems as do you! Onward Eli!

    1. Melinda

      Ironically this appeared on Kenilworth Union Youth site today. Very synergistic with your message.

      “Darkness fell. His friends scattered. All hope seemed lost. But heaven just started counting to three.”

      -Bob Goff

  6. Dodie

    Nowhere near as eloquent with my words so suffice to say “ditto” as the sentiment of RT. 45 is quite an accomplishment. Happy Easter!

  7. Barbara Welles Iler

    Today’s blog really resonated with me. Beautifully done. Thank you for giving us this gift each day for the past 40 days!

  8. Barbara Welles Iler

    And Happy Easter!

  9. Jen Pen

    Waiting 3 days. I’ve heard this works really well.

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