04 April 2010

Who will roll away the stone for us?

Our parish follows the custom of veiling images of our Lord on Judica. I hate it like I hate everything that's good for me. In years past we have done this at home too; covering the crucifixes in every room. This year I didn't do it, because I hate it. And even in years when we have done it, I have never veiled the icons and crucifix opposite my nursing chair in the baby's room. I can live, albeit gloomily, with the crucifixes veiled, but I cannot sit alone* in that chair in the dark night without my little group of icons above the changing table and the crucifix over the door.

On Judica, a huge black shade is drawn over the Christ Blessing image on our church's reredos. It's really not my favorite image. But that huge black shade at the front of church where Jesus should be hangs heavily on the soul.

At the Easter Vigil, during the Litany, the lights come up, the candles are lit, the vestments change from violet to white, and the awful shade is lowered by a server, a servant of the Most High. At the end of the Litany, the pastor turns around and declares, "Alleluia! Christ is risen!" It is the most preposterous moment of the Church's year. "He is risen indeed! Alleluia!" we answer, preposterously. And it is over. The Passion is past. It is the day of Resurrection. We keep the Vigil, we watch for our Lord to pass over from death to life, but in the end it is still a mystery.

To just come to church on Easter morning, Jesus is back as if by magic. The shade was there on Friday, and now it's gone, and there are flowers and white paraments and Alleluias. But there was a moment when the shade was rising, when its string slid through someone's careful fingers and allowed it to fall inch by inch, when Jesus' hair appeared and then his face and then his hands and then his feet. There was also a moment of something like fiat--"Alleluia! Christ is risen!"--because even as we watched, we missed it.

And there was a moment when a servant of the Most High rolled away that stone, for it was very large, so that people too weak to roll it away themselves could see where Jesus, who didn't need the stone rolled away to leave, was not. And there was a moment when Jesus began to be not just impossibly alive as at the unfathomable moment of his Incarnation, but impossibly alive again.

*not really alone, of course. If I were alone I wouldn't be sitting there. But although very sweet, an 80% asleep nursing baby is insufficient comfort for me.


Melrose said...

so I'm not the only one that is still terrified of the dark at 26 years of age? I too cling to visual reminders in those dark nights. We need more crucifixes in our home ( I think we only have 3) but we have many beautiful old paintings of Christ that I love.

Alleluia, Christ is Risen!

Gauntlets said...

>>There was also a moment of something like fiat--"Alleluia! Christ is risen!"--because even as we watched, we missed it.

Yes. Another year and I watched as the shrouds were pulled from the images. For a moment I felt only baffled. It was over? Were they sure?

Then Easter, all in a rush, and I was suddenly, inexplicably singing, and the dark was pushed into corners, and we were all of us together happy.

Amazing how easily I forget from year to year, even though it's predicted in the bulletins, that Lent ends in Easter. However, I'm also consistently surprised when the robins carry home Spring . . . :D

Rebekah said...

Melrose, I told people when I was pregnant with Baby 1 that I was nervous about being up at night because I'm ridiculously scared of the dark. They said I'd get over it once I was a mom. But then, they said a lot of things.

Gauntlets, I'll never get over how surprising and good Easter feels.