Friday, April 17, 2015

Good Friday, 2015, Flying Westward

Two weeks ago, we'd have been getting ready to go to the airport to make our way to Hawaii.  Because we knew we'd be leaving early, we didn't go to Maundy Thursday services.  Because we were in the air all day, we didn't go to Good Friday services. 

But because the stream of the liturgical year is always moving below the rocks of my regular day, I was aware of what I was missing.  I did my own recognition of the holy days, but it was strange to observe them alone.

Wendy has a post about flunking Lent.  I flunked Holy Week.  Or maybe I just made a D.

On Maundy Thursday, I did have communal meals, but nothing like some Maundy Thursday meals I've had in the past (the occasional Seder, the pot luck dinner).  A group of work friends went to lunch in our work neighborhood; someone paid for our lunch, including the to-go lunches that we were taking back to colleagues who couldn't leave their desks.  That would have been strange any day, but it felt especially weighted with meaning on Maundy Thursday.

On Maundy Thursday evening, while the rest of the Christian world washed feet and stripped altars, we shared a simple meal of hamburgers with a friend and then did our final packing.  Again, our activities fit a Maundy Thursday theme in a way, but a strange way.

We got up early on Good Friday and made our way to the airport.  We waited for our first flight, and one of our fellow travelers told us about his recent heart attack and renewed life:  an Easter story!

In the Dallas airport, an announcement invited us all to the chapel for a Good Friday service, but didn't tell us where the chapel was.  I wondered if the worship planners did what they would normally do, or if a Good Friday service in an airport chapel would be substantially different.

And then we got on the plane for our almost 9 hour flight to Hawaii.  I thought about all the mortifications of the body that a long flight requires.  I won't go as far as to call it a crucifixion; I'm very clear about the agony involved in that punishment.

We flew west, so the falling of the night was always behind us.  I'd love to be the kind of person who sleeps on a plane, but even on overnight flights, I have trouble.  On a flight where the sun doesn't set, it's even harder.

We ended Good Friday sitting by a pool under the light of the full moon.  We drank tropical drinks and ate fried chicken.  Even my best poet self can't make that experience fit into a Good Friday theme.

Yesterday as I thought about making a poem about any of this, I looked up John Donne's "Good Friday, 1613. Riding Westward."  It's never been one of my favorite Donne poems, but I find it comforting that even in the seventeenth century poets wrestled with the intersections of the liturgical year and the rhythms of business life and needing to attend to other concerns, not just spiritual ones.

The first two lines of the poem intrigue me:

"Let mans Soule be a Spheare, and then, in this,
The intelligence that moves, devotion is,"
I think of staring out of the plane window and imagining that I could see the curve of the earth:  spheres of all sorts!
And here we are, one week later, and I'm still looking at strands of imagery, trying to think about how to weave them into whole cloth. 

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