The Road to Golgotha


We walk to Good Friday the only way we know how: one foot in front of the other, unsure of what we are meant to be feeling, uncomfortable with sadness and grief, untaught in the ways of lament. We are both creators and products of this culture we live out our days in; one that silences the suffering, not out of malice but discomfort. Scripture says that God "sustains the weary with a word," but the imago Dei in me can't seem to remember how.

Ancient societies had elaborate traditions for mourning, but my grandfather is dying and all I know to do is text him pictures of my kids. I want the world to stop; I want my family to walk away from our jobs and our schools and our lives and set up vigil around that old farmhouse for weeks until he drifts into eternal rest. But we haven't set our world up for that. We expect the bereaved to stay on the treadmill. You told him goodbye two weeks ago, after all. What more could you hope for than that? No one says it. No one except society and my own heart.

I peer into the tomorrow of Good Friday tentatively, sure that when the hour of our Lord strikes at 3:00 I will miss it; too busy slathering peanut butter onto apple slices or pulling a bedraggled toddler from his crib. I have only ever observed the day as a mother of young children, and I find myself fantasizing about how holy it will be when they're grown and gone and I have the whole day for silence and fasting and prayer. And then I berate myself because this right here is holy, and when that day comes in the future I know I will cry tears of memory, thinking on how loud and messy and hard and precious Good Friday used to be.

I feebly offer my children what I know of the Triduum; I piece together a liturgy of life that I only hope will anchor them to something eternal as they grow and change. Tonight we will wash each other's feet in mass, and I will cry freely in front of God and men the whole time. We won't receive communion at mass on Friday- we'll kiss the feet of Jesus on the crucifix instead- and maybe the awe-full/awful truth of this holy day will seep into their bones, ready to be unearthed and dusted off in twenty years when their faith feels rootless. Saturday will be still (but they are small boys so it won't be still at all) until the Easter Vigil, when the fire will reflect in their eyes and their tiny hands will grip candles determinedly as the litany of saints dead but alive rolls over their ears.

Good Friday will not feel powerful and sacred; I've been a mother long enough to feel sure about that. But I will walk my children down the road to Golgotha anyway, praying that the liturgy of death and resurrection will be locked somewhere deep within that I can't see, there for the taking when they need it; there for the taking when they are 87 years old and dying, receiving texted photographs of their great-grandchildren to make them smile.

Someday, the light will shine like a sun through my skin & they will say, 'what have you done with your life?' & though there are many moments I think I'll remember, in the end, I will be proud to say, I was one of us.

(Brian Andreas, Storypeople)