1 APRIL 2018
I did actually weep in gratitude once today. The slow, viscous drops seeped from my eyes, down my cheeks, washing clean any dark corners of doubt, and they came, just that once, as I sat in silence in the early afternoon.
But I have smiled many times today, laughed and chuckled, smirked a bit. All of the rest of today, I have simply wandered around in that gratitude with a quietness in my heart, my soul, and most of my mind. And it all gives me strength.
[Just now, as I am writing in this same coffee shop, where my friend Jeremy has helped me with the Latin in the title, a song has begun playing. It is a very specific and perfect, perfect song for my gratitude. The song is an oldish one, and the artist was so prolific that scholars have researched his music and created a comprehensive list. This specific, perfect song is indexed in a paper that, in cooperation with the University of Arizona, was prepared by Reinhard F. Scheer-Hennings and Dennis M. Spragg for the University of Colorado, and was last updated on 26 January 2018].
As I was saying, it all gives me strength. There is simply so much joy to be had for the taking—really, as it comes freely—that I must share it. And I’m allowed to keep it. It is a mystery how this can be, and I will call it mysterium gaudium, the way that joy is received and given in a flow or a loop, yes a loop like the finer-than-silk loop of the tapestry of all reality. I also want you to know that you are a part of it (and that small word part does it no justice, the it that it is). I said so in my very first post on this blog with “Beginnings,” and it is plastered on my home page and it resides in my heart: “Your presence is my joy.”
Well, I am going in a different direction here than I had intended, and it is partially in response to events of the past hour (as it is now Monday evening), but let me return to the joy of Easter.
Easter as a word is derived from Ēastre, the name of a goddess of spring, but it is also the oldest and perhaps most important festival of the Christian church. And this year was an Easter like no other for me. Just as last Christmas was the Christmas of Meaning, so this Easter is deep with significance and meaning.
It began on Good Friday and reached a kind of zenith at the Good Friday service at this church, of which I am a part (justice is done this time). I will not write of it (just as I did not write much of the Ash Wednesday service), except to say that toward the end of the Good Friday service, those who wished were allowed to take communion and to take some oil mixed with frankincense and apply it as a reminder of the burial of the Christ. I had decided to apply the oil to my wrists, and then the leader gave instructions that participants could indeed apply it to the forehead (as with the ashes earlier on Ash Wednesday) or to the wrists. Good idea, I thought. I did apply a drop of the fragrant oil to each wrist, and all else before and after, during that night, was sacred wonder.
The next day, on the Saturday before Easter, I went to work delivering mail. I found that I could still detect the scent of the perfumed oil on my wrists, and that gave me some comfort, reminding me of the abiding presence from the preceding evening. Work was long and I was not at all tired from it as I was looking forward to being with friends on Easter. I was on the MAX train headed toward downtown when I thought to smell my wrists. I could still smell, faintly, that reminder on my right wrist, but there was no discernible scent remaining on my left. I thought about that, and then it came to me with joy. All of the mail is on my left side, and I rest my wrist on the tray of letters and rifle through every one to separate each address before putting that mail into each box with my right hand. The top edge of every piece of mail, all day—thousands of letters—had brushed across my left wrist, and each one had carried a trace of that burial oil to every home on my route . . . a route that I call “Prayer.”
And sometime in the night, before the sun would rise on Sunday, the stone would be rolled away, and the tomb would be empty of death and full of Light.
It is my prayer that you abound in joy and gladness. From now on. And on. And on.
Abfluerēs in laetitiā.
Photograph © 2018 Timothy Waugh