Mysterium Convivium

[Why is it called Good Friday when it commemorates an execution? You can read this article for more about “why good“, but let’s say for now that it is the Friday before Easter which is all about resurrection.]

30 March 2018

It is Good Friday, and I am on my knees . . .

This day–Friday–I am on the route that I call “Prayer.” Schools are closed, which makes it a great Friday for most students and teachers. And, apparently, it is fantastic Friday for school secretaries, because the office for the Catholic school is closed. I can see the big orange sign that they told me they would place on the school office door so that I would not waste time walking all the way up; I can just drive by and see that they are closed. But, I know that the parish office is sometimes open anyway, and they will accept the school mail.

I circle around the large empty parking lot, and there is no way that I could “do donuts” with this mail truck, but I wish. The only possible way to burn rubber is not by accelerating (even by increasing the acceleration of one side of the truck by turning sharply, whereby we would see Newton’s Second Law—Στ = I α—clearly at work). The only way to burn rubber is by picking up speed over a long distance, which I have in this empty lot, and then slamming on the brakes. Really good brakes, these trucks have, because we are carrying a heavy load–slowly and surely, never very fast do we carry it, and with care and concern also do I carry it–and we must be able to stop for the stupid jerk drivers precious souls out there who may be dwelling on more lofty matters than driving safely, and who may decide to freakin’ cut me off pull out in front of me, inadvertently, because of all the loft in their matters.

So, donuts aside and unattainable, I still do not burn rubber by braking and leaving tracks in this empty parking lot because it would wreak havoc with my load (shift happens). Instead, I pull up to the parish office, get the mail, turn off the truck, open the door, and step out into the sun. It is a stunning day, sunny and coolish with a faint breeze, and this school runs up against Ray’s farm, so there is a freshness in that breeze.

I am just standing here, in no hurry, thinking about the mystery of it all. And I am thinking about all of the mysteries. There is the mysterium tremendum, the mystery that repels, and the mysterium fascinans that attracts. Read The Idea of the Holy, by Rudolph Otto, because he says it better than I can articulate. There is, of course, the magnum mysterium, or great mystery, and that is what I am thinking about all of the time as I drive around all day listening to glorious music, meeting hundreds of people, and getting paid for it. But now, right now, as I stand in the sun with the breeze and its freshness, I am thinking about another mystery. It is mysterium convivium, a mysterious conviviality of life together. Plug it into Google Translate, and you get “mystery dinner”, and that is ludicrous, but not far off, really, because what could be better than dinner together? Well, I could tell you quite a few things, but I shall not. The point is that being together, with another or others, and all of the interplay, the dynamics, the “vibe”, the connection, and on and on and on, all of this results in such a mystery, and even unresolved it is absolutely beautiful to me. Full, full of wonder.

I force myself to move up the steps to the parish office with the mail in my hand, and I try the door. It is locked. I try it again and it is clear that the office is closed, and there are no Catholics to be found. There is a mail slot on the door, just a half-meter from the bottom, and I will put the mail through it. I bundle the mail with a rubber band that I pull from my right wrist, and I am bundling it so that when I push it through the slot, it will not splay all over the floor. I bend down, and then kneel down.

It is Good Friday, and I am on my knees. I lift the flap on the slot, and put the edge of the bundle into the slot moving it back and forth to push it gently through. And the door begins moving inward with the bundle. It is opening somehow, although locked, and so I hold onto the bundle, still on my knees, and the door continues to move, opening . . .

I see black shoes, and my bowed head raises slowly and I see black pants. I see a black shirt. And then I see a white collar. It is a clerical collar, and I am looking into a smile and the kind eyes of the parish priest. I say, “That was a mystery”, and I think of all mysteries, laughing inwardly with joy. And the priest looks down on me, into my eyes, and the kindness is mutual. My head raises slowly toward him, and he says, “This is a good day for mysteries.”

I laugh, hand him the mail, and fairly skip back to the truck. Driving around the rest of the day, it is still Good Friday, but Easter is coming. And I am on my knees.