what an upside down Holy Week taught me about Jesus

Triduum is my favorite time of year.

Except when it’s turned upside down. In a house of one spouse with walking pneumonia, one child with pinkeye, two children with stomach bugs, and everyone home sick for Holy Week bringing an apocalyptic return of morning sickness which lands the other (pregnant) spouse in the hospital for dehydration on Holy Thursday.

A litany like that sounds like a laundry list of lament (which it is, to be honest). But in the midst of throwing all Easter plans out the window, something surprising happened.

THE SAME THING THAT ALWAYS HAPPENS WHEN I THINK I AM IN CHARGE OF MY OWN LIFE OR OTHER PEOPLE’S.

Also known as: a startling encounter with the reality of God.

By Friday afternoon, slumping in the pew with two kids who begged to go to church, exhausted from an evening of IVs in the labor & delivery ward, cranky from caring (poorly, selfishly, mistake me not for Florence Nightingale) for everyone else instead of me, I was Officially Done.

Then our pastors walked up in silence and laid down on the floor before the altar, burying their faces beneath their arms on the cold concrete.

And everything inside me broke apart all over again.

Their simple, silent, humbling posture reminded me of everything that matters.

This is the whole point, the whole calling of my life, the exact impulse I feel ten times a day when I remember all over again what it means that God is real and I am trying to give my life to that reality.

I want to lay down before the sheer weight and glory and wonder of God.

Of course I forget this truth twenty times a day in life’s monotonous shuffle. Of course I have to remember myself back into the love of God over and over and over. But the endless repetition of the rhythm of the spiritual life is worth every ache and pain. Because this love – distilled on Good Friday into the tightest nucleus of suffering and sacrifice – transforms every fabric of existence.

This is what I keep learning. 

That suffering – physical, emotional, spiritual – is the most transformative force I know.

That God shows up most powerfully when I decide to get my ego and expectations out of the way.

That the Christian way is an upside down life. That my life is not mine to control. That holy cannot be tamed. That joy bursts through the cracks when everything breaks apart.

Good Friday broke me open. Listening to stories and songs of no greater love. Watching people in my community take turns shouldering the cross so everyone could reach out to touch its rough wood. Seeing hand after hand stretch out to receive, the body broken again into crumbs which are Christ.

Easter turned out to be a transformation that will take slow time to unpack, turning over and over what happened when I found Christ at the foot of the cross.

For now I slip back into the swirl of a busy week, wondering in my own way what the disciples might have wondered: what was that? how does this change everything? where do we go from here?

I don’t yet know. But on the edge of something new is one of my favorite places to be.

. . .

A few new places to share:

I had the delight of appearing on the Fountains of Carrots podcast with Haley and Christy. We talked about Maggie and Abby’s story, my work on vocation, and the everyday joys and challenges of motherhood. You can listen to the whole episode here

And for Easter Week I have a new essay at FaithND about the surprising way I learned how God works through our wounds:

Here is what I have learned, the conversion that has changed my mind about almost everything, including God: wounds are how we know each other.

And when you start to see it—when you notice the back of God’s hands for the first time, when you realize that the way God works is not around suffering but through it—everything changes.

Click here to read the whole story…

2 thoughts on “what an upside down Holy Week taught me about Jesus

  1. “And everything inside me broke apart all over again.

    Their simple, silent, humbling posture reminded me of everything that matters.

    This is the whole point, the whole calling of my life, the exact impulse I feel ten times a day when I remember all over again what it means that God is real and I am trying to give my life to that reality.”

    *sobbing*
    God bless the resonance of your words.

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