I mentioned earlier how much I like Easter, or more specifically Holy Week, and during that week I posted some of the prayers and poems I most like. I've been meaning to write more about it for a while, but, well, I didn't--till now ;) Partly, it's thanks to labingi's post on the 25th that I finally am sitting down and pulling my thoughts together. I'm going to quote liberally from the poems and prayers in the previous posts, so beware!
I'm relatively new to the liturgical tradition (Ok, um, going on 8? 9? years here, but I didn't grow up with it), and one thing that impresses me is how much and how well both the pain and the joy are recognized.
We go through the long, solemn time of Lent, when not even Alleluias are allowed, because it is not a time of rejoicing but a time of reflection, a time to recognize the fallen, flawed nature of the world we live in. This is a place where everything is not all right. Where, as Gerard Manly Hopkins wrote in a poem I posted earlier, "All is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil."
And as we approach Easter, we recognize the sacrifice that was made to, ultimately, redeem the world, and, in some ways, how far away we still are from that ultimate shining out. There is a descent into the depths with the formal stripping of the altar and the silent, thoughtful exit at the end of the service--an exit made in near darkness as a remembrance. There is the thoughtful remembrance in the Stations of the Cross, a time when we do recall that Christ first "suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified." The dark paradox of Good Friday.
And then. And then the Great Vigil, the holding of the breath and waiting for the final moment of glory.
Sunrise services and the great cry of
He is Risen!
The joy and light and laughter and the realization of hope and, ultimately, victory.
Despite the darkness, despite the pain, because of His pain, there is joy.
And that is why I try to get to every service held during Holy Week. I don't want to miss a moment.