Today we begin the Triduum, the three-day kernel of the Easter mystery. Each day has a unique symbolic celebration. Today the Eucharist expresses union, koinonia, friendship rippling through humanity and the cosmos proclaiming justice and peace.
Friday’s elemental force is separation, loss, death and division: no Eucharist can be celebrated but in faith the Cross is venerated.
Saturday is the day after every funeral, the mourners have gone home, the grave is closed, the long void, darkness and emptiness of absence becomes visible in a heavy silence and strange inactivity.
But in the depth of the darkness, the Easter Vigil starts with the lighting of the Easter fire. It bonds us across millennia with our primitive human roots and then we process through the dark, lighting our tiny individual candles from the paschal candle, the light of the Rising Christ.
At dawn on Sunday the liturgy is nature’s own sunrise and then the Eucharist celebrated at the height of the noonday sun. It is the fourth, non-dual dimension that contains and combines the other three dimensions of the human condition.
There’s not much more to life’s meaning than what is contained in these three days except Covid and taxes.
I suggested yesterday to the retreatants here at Bonnevaux that they search in their inner silence for a personal redemptive question, like that I described in the story of the Fisher King on at the beginning of the retreat. It doesn’t have to be invented and like a koan can’t be easily answered but it should be listened found and heard. To find it, it might help to recall some aspects of these three days from your past life-experience.
Have you ever accompanied someone who has gone through their own Good Friday? Of course, we are there for others through the many losses, trials and tribulations of life and we are grateful when others accompany us. But all these are preparations for the final Friday and the ultimate separation, the loss of the physical body. All loss is a form of death or, we might say, death is just the final form of loss. If you have known the painful grace of this accompanying these days might be deepened.
But we can all summon our powers of imaginative empathy to accompany Jesus on the Way of the Cross, to Golgotha and beyond. The beyond is the Resurrection. It has already dawned, otherwise we would not be doing this.
What we are doing is not pretending it hasn’t happened but seeing how humanity is being formed into his koinonia, his community.