- darkness and light in the desert skies -
The big news in the area where we live is that, just a few miles from our house, the internationally famous “Coachella Music Festival” begins today. Over 100,000 “mostly young” people have made their way out to this region and they will stay here for the next three days listening to Rock and Indie music, dancing in the open air under the desert skies.
This morning our local paper was full of stories about this very popular festival (Lady Gaga takes the stage tonight); however, I found it very interesting that in today’s news there was not even a hint that today is also “Good Friday.” I didn’t see one single story mentioning that today is one of the most solemn and most important days on the Christian calendar - the day when Jesus was crucified, suffered and died on the cross.
I imagine that some might say there was no mention of Good Friday because fewer and fewer people are religious nowadays; and yet from my experience, even among faithful Christian believers, Good Friday is often a day that many people tend to avoid.
I am reminded of a conversation I had a few years back with the mother of one of the children in our parish school. I asked her if she and her family would be attending one of our Good Friday Services. The mom immediately said, “Of course not, my son is only 9 years old, why would I even think of exposing him to the horrific images of pain and death that come with the Good Friday story? We’ll be in church on Easter morning when everything looks a lot happier.”
As I see it, whether or not you are a religious person or a Christian believer, many people tend to avoid looking at the pain and suffering of life as epitomized on Good Friday. Many people close their eyes to the night and wait to open them again when it’s a lot happier at the break of day. But the fact is that darkness and night, pain and suffering are part of our human condition. We are all wounded and when we hide from our wounds we make the suffering even worse.
In her book, Learning to Walk in the Dark, Episcopal priest and author, Barbara Brown Taylor makes this astute observation:
To be human is to live by sunlight and moonlight,
with anxiety and with delight,
admitting limits and transcending them,
falling down and rising up.
To want life with only half of these things is to want only half a life,
shutting the other half away where it will not interfere with
one’s bright fantasies of the way things out to be.
On this Good Friday, as I look at the image of the crucified Jesus, it am reminded that suffering, sickness, disappointment and rejection are part of the human condition. When I look at the image of a crucified Jesus with his hands and feet nailed to a cross I find myself looking directly into the face of “fragility” and “vulnerability” and it's here that I see the revelation of what real love is all about.
I think of something the author Paul Coelho once said:
The strongest love is the love that can demonstrate its fragility.
If I spend my days hiding away from the darkness and only showing up for life when brighter times come along, I will inevitably miss half my life. Genuine “Love” happens when we are fragile and vulnerable enough to share ourselves with one another in the good times as well as the bad times, the bright times as well as the dark times.
This is the lesson I learn from remembering that, while today many people will be dancing in the desert at a popular music festival, it’s also “Good Friday,” and it seems to be that you don’t have to be a Christian to remember this.