Tuesday, April 6, 2010

That Eastertide with joy is bright

My Anglican Rosary

One of the unexpected surprises of Lent/Holy Week/Easter was praying the Rosary; sometimes with others and sometimes alone. At one of the first Wednesday evening Lenten Soup Suppers, we had the opportunity to make our own rosary. It was a wonderful inter-generational event and those of us with bifocular eyesight were very appreciative of the youngsters who could thread the needles for us to begin. On the following Wednesdays we prayed the rosary as a group, using different prayers.

One week we used the familiar "And all will be well, and all will be well and all manner of thing shall be well" from Julian of Norwich as the "week beads." In each week of the beads we meditated on a person, event, place, relationship that we really desired wholeness and wellness. Many found this a helpful discipline through the rest of Lent. The following Wednesday was St. Patrick's day, so the "week beads" were from his Lorica. We meditated on Christ's presence all around us in people and places. The final week we used the seven last words of Christ on the Cross for the "weak beads." Because of their familiarity and the different places they called me to be in prayer, I particularly liked this and used it throughout Holy Week.

Well, that is until we got to Easter. Our facilitator/mentor/bead master/friend (Barbara Kissack) had also prepared special prayers for the days following Easter. Using a sequence hymn written by Adam of St. Victor (canon in the Abbey of St. Victor in Paris in the 12th Century), I was so moved by his powerful images. I think that his ideas parallel those of Gerard Manley Hopkins who wrote of "Eastering" as I blogged about last time. Adam of St. Victor's words follow:

A Laramie sunrise
I see flames of orange, yellow, and red shooting upwards to the sky, piercing the whole clouds.
I see the clouds themselves chasing the flames upwards,
And I feel the air itself reaching for the heavens.
Down below I see great, grey rocks beating against the earth, as if they were pushing their way down to hell.
At your resurrection that which is light and good rises up with You,
And that which is heavy and evil is pushed downwards.
At your resurrection goodness breaks from evil, life breaks free from death.
And so here we are a couple of days into Eastertide. After the Easter Day services, I made a few phone calls to family and friends, particularly remembering with great fondness the women priests who took me with them on Easter Day to the country on my first Easter at seminary. I believed they mentored me into the "orthodox" way of priestly recovery from Holy Week: time in the country with good friends, a nice simple, but very tasty meal, some very nice wine, naps, walks. I had a wonderful dinner with our Deacon and his wife who is also Sr. Warden. They served lamb, wine, asparagus and good conversation.
Yesterday was a sort of recovery from "liturgical overload," with a long walk by the Laramie River--Fargo and Rebel loved going to a new place with so much pee-mail to check since late last fall--a nap, a movie, more phone calls, a steak on the grill and the Duke/Butler game. Before really changing gears for some of the events of Eastertide, I want to celebrate and recognize so what a good Holy Week it was. I'm not sure if my long tenure here has enabled us to have similar expectations, or that we are better able to delegate and trust that things will get done, or that new folks stepped up to the plate to offer their gifts. For me it was the least stressful Triduum I've ever had. I felt more present to the real worship and not be held captive by liturgical details. The garden for the Altar of Repose was beautiful and quiet; the cellist at Good Friday provided a most moving rendition of Bach's Sarabande for the Veneration of the Cross; the story tellers at the Vigil were so creative; the soprano and the trumpeter with a piece from Handel's Messiah on Sunday moved the congregation to tears and cheers. Each liturgy was unique, but it came together as a unity.
I think that this congregation really worked hard this Lent to recognize where they had grown cold and hard-hearted so that when that work climaxed with the last of the stones thrown on Good Friday, we were really ready as a group to move into new life, Easter life. It was, as one member wrote today, we were aware of the Holy Spirit's presence with us like we haven't experienced for some time. I stand in total agreement with Adam of St. Victor, "life breaks free from death." Alleluia! Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

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