A parishioner sent me this lovely poem by Mary Oliver a few weeks ago. I'd read it before, but for some reason it spoke something new to me at this time of my life:
When I moved from one house to another
there were many things I had no room
for. What does one do? I rented a storage
space. And filled it. Years passed.
Occasionally I went there and looked in,
but nothing happened, not a single
twinge of the heart.
As I grew older the things I cared
about grew fewer, but were more
important. So one day I undid the lock
and called the trash man. He took
I felt like the little donkey when
his burden is finally lifted. Things!
Burn them, burn them! Make a beautiful
fire! More room in your heart for love,
for the trees! For the birds who own
nothing-the reason they can fly.
Holy Week is that week where the church asks you to show up Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and yes, Sunday. And we do this not out of piety or necessity, but because of opportunity.
Holy Week is the opportunity that the church gets to unload all of the things that you've locked away in the storage shed of your soul. And it gets full every year...you don't realize it, but it gets full.
And in hearing about Jesus' last supper, the crucifixion, the hope, the love, the abandonment, the genuine heartache and heartfelt passion-Christ's "passion" is not just his suffering, but is even more so his deep, abiding love for humanity-in hearing all of this we actually get that lock broken open for us and God, like Mary Oliver's "trash man," comes and burns it all in the new dawn of resurrection hope that we honor with a new fire at the Easter Vigil, and celebrate with trumpets on Easter morning.
And here's the thing: every year I don't just clean out the stuff in my spiritual storage shed from the previous year. Some years? Some years something from way back when, hiding in the corner of my spiritual storage shed, a thought, a memory, a dogma or doctrine long dead in my heart but still present in my head, gets cleaned out, too.