As I child, I gave up chocolate each Lent. I’d hoard every bar I was given as a present until Easter Sunday when I’d gorge on the lot and make myself ill. My idea of sacrifice wasn’t to do without but rather to delay gratification.
Easter Sunday 2014 has come and is almost gone. I’ve a lot deadlines on right now so most of this holiday was spent in front of my computer. To a greater or lesser extent, it was a day like any other, yet I still expected it to be full of Easter bonnets, Easter eggs, and roast lamb dinner. But it wasn’t.
In fact, the only thing that made it different to any other day this week was that I went to Mass. And technically, as I go to Mass every Sunday, that in and of itself didn’t do much to separate it from the other 50+ Sundays in the year. But today, two things stood out.
About half-way during Mass, a middle-aged woman a couple of seats in front of me stood up. The rest of the church was sitting, but she continued to stand, blocking the view of those sitting behind her. Her muttered mumblings to whom I assume was her daughter or daughter-in-law (given the husband and two kids she had in tow) led me to believe that (a) either the cushion on the seat was cold/wet or (b) the pew was too hard. In any event, stand she did. And stand out she did, too.
I was reminded of an encounter on a bus in Malta a few months ago. A woman with a young child got on the bus and sat towards the back. The child (about 3 or 4) was acting up so the mum told him that he should watch how quiet everyone else was being, and behave exactly the same. For some reason I had a horrendous vision of the Holocaust, one that confusingly flashed in front of me with a background narration of ‘when in Rome , do as the Romans do’. I’m still deliberating….
Studying this woman today though, she seemed perfectly at ease with standing up (and out); it was those around her who seemed disconcerted. It left me wondering about conformity and who benefits most.
The second involved the Crown of Thorns that I noticed at the base of the cross on the altar. I’d not seen it before, although the church has been decorating the altar in the same way for the all the years I’ve been going there. It struck a chord, perhaps because last night I watched one of many episodes in the first series of Prison Break, in which John imagines seeing the head of Jesus, crown and all, as He hung on the cross. The rust stains in his cell he sees as Christ’s Blood. He then goes out to kill another inmate, but instead, forgives him (having found the Lord), only to have yer man turn and kill him instead. Is there no justice in the world?
In some convoluted way, with some random word association and image processing going on in a chocolate-starved brain perhaps, I began to think about the crown of thorns that each of us wears. Some of us have little choice but to keep suffering, to keep wearing our Cancer or our MS or our Hunger, but I suspect that many more of us could simply take off our crowns of thorns off. We have a choice, one we choose too often to ignore.
After a week that was longer and more intense than usual, I’m grateful that today was the day it was, a quiet day with two clear messages. (1) Stand up for what I believe in no matter how uncomfortable it makes others feel. (2) Be conscious that almost everything in life involves a choice…and I can choose to say no.
Happy Easter to one and all. Hope someone is making up for my chocolate deficiency 🙂