No Loss


Some of the events of Easter, 1 April 2018

Early on Easter Sunday, long before dawn, I posted In the dark of night: He, a rose. It is true, that he arose, but how does his fragrance continue into today? What does it matter? I will only write of how it mattered on this one day, knowing that every day can be filled with the same aroma.

A friend was to be baptized at our church at the early Easter service, at 8:00 a.m. One may be baptized anytime, but our church makes an event of it on Easter and once in the summer as well. I’d had just a few hours of sleep, after getting home late from work, but I had told A. that I would be there to witness her baptism. And there was no way that I would miss the brunch at 10:00 a.m. because I would miss much more than food, and I was hoping that we would linger until close to Noon. So that meant the early service it would be, for many reasons (all of which did, in fact, bring such joy-filled moments).

Google predicted a bus for me that would get me there in time, and I was there at the stop on Google time. Google was not aware of a 10K race running through downtown Portland, however, so there was no bus. Real-world time said it would be 41 minutes before a bus arrived, putting me at Imago Dei church at 8:37, and that could not be.

I walked to another stop where I knew that another bus line ran and could connect me to yet another bus, and if all went well, I’d have seven minutes to spare, arriving at 7:53.

Okay, God, here I go, for you and for your people. Here is the other bus, and I am on it now, and it is on its proper schedule and I am on my revised schedule, and this is going just fine after all. But then three stops before my final one, to catch my second bus, I hear the ramp lowering. That means that a person with special needs will be getting on, taking extra time (could be a minute or several). I’ll miss my connection if the needs are extremely special. Ugh, this is taking forever and by all appearances these are very special needs. And mine are. I need a change of focus, a purification of motive, a shift in my soul.

A person in a wheel chair is creeping up the ramp, not so much rolling with wheels in rotation, as inching up the incline with wheels skidding and slipping. I hop up to raise the seats in the front to accommodate the chair, and then I sit down to watch, thinking all the while from the shallow end that I will not get my choice seat at the end of my own pew, I’ll be too late. And I am thirsty from the extra walking, and if I miss my connection that means an extra half kilometer more walking, and I might just drink all of the communion, so thirsty I will be, and holy crap there is no communion because we did that at the Good Friday service and won’t do it again today on Easter and all of that fragrant burial oil is long gone from my flesh which is right now, at this moment, taking control of my spirit which is why I am the one with special needs and I am becoming disgusted with myself and my impatience and . . . yes, Father God, I do hear you now, thank you for breaking through my pathos.

The person is up the ramp now, and his caregiver is fumbling around with change to buy a ticket. I hear a coin drop, I think, but I am sitting here and watching while all of the adjustments are made, getting them both safely in seats, and the bus is slowly pulling from the curb. I am breathing slowly like the bus now and I feel, rather than smell, the oil that was his final fragrance.

The bus is near my stop, and I have pulled the cord, and as I get off I know that this may cost me the connection, but if a widow can search for a lost coin, so shall I. There it is, near the front of the bus, and I pick it up, walking back to hand it to the caregiver whose eyes at this moment are more kind than my own. I am so sickeningly holy and righteous that I want to flail myself as I press that coin into those filthy hands while I stand there wearing $100 boots and a wool coat, another $100. I smell of expensive cologne, not sacred perfume, while this person who is caring for another is in tattered rags and smells like Jesus did when he was so alive. Yes, it does matter. Today it matters that he died, and it matters that he rose.

And then . . . I am given the breath of that other, and I fall under a shroud of repentance as I begin walking off the bus with no hope of a connection, but instead another kind of hope altogether. True connection.

I am walking past two people still asleep on the sidewalk, and one of them moans loudly as I see movement somewhere in that sleeping bag, a home that may be infested with disease itself, and then I hear coughing and another screeching voice from the other sleeping bag that tells the first to shut up. I am walking over heroine needles and broken bottles, and sidestepping bits of garbage, and up ahead the sidewalk is blocked due to construction of a luxury apartment tower that will preside over all of this one day, looking down with disdain at those who sleep in her shadow.

I walk out in the street, unaware of traffic, as I avoid the blocked section, and I look at my phone to check the time and I will compute how late I will be and where I will sit, and . . . and . . . no time has passed. There is no loss, only gain.

I am within sight now of the church and next I am walking through the doors.

It is 7:53 on Easter Sunday, and I have every one of those seven minutes.

WE have every one of those seven minutes, and seven more weeks of Easter.