Friday, March 25 – “I know there is something larger than the memory of a dispossessed people.”
For the Christian faith tradition, Easter does not erase Good Friday. In 1927 Cecil B DeMille closed his nearly all black and white silent film with a very new two-color Technicolor Resurrection. Bet it knocked audiences flat with the wonders of progress. Alas, he missed the core of the Resurrection. In every gospel account of Jesus risen the women or men in the story do not want to hear he is alive; every story tells of conversion from despair into hope and from the romantic illusion that while Jesus walked the earth with them, these women and men had sweet clarity and a flawless guide to scold them or give them good marks: the comfort of a superior mentor close at hand. The accounts in the Acts of the Apostles make good contemplations for the Easter season; Complaints, fights, confusion, betrayals, joy, courage . . . sounds a lot like the Church into which I was born and in which I now live.
To me the message in these 4 sacred days opens into intimate realism about the wear of the human condition punctuated by encounters of such beauty and tenderness that they re-open doors into courage and hope for my world the way it is. A saying from Dom Helder Camera, mystic, saint comes the closest to a Resurrection message that I know:
“It is possible to travel alone, but we know the journey is human life
and life needs company.
Companion is the one who eats the same bread.
The good traveler cares for weary companions, grieves when we lose heart,
takes us where she finds us, listens to us.
Intelligently, gently, above all lovingly, we encourage each other to go on
and recover our joy
On the journey.”
********* Dom Helder Camera
It may help for today’s post to read it out loud, with pauses. Joy Harjo’s “Grace” could have been the song of the first followers of Jesus on what we call Holy Saturday, as they straggled back to the Upper Room, overwhelmed by failure, overwhelmed with grief, overwhelmed by love, finding a home in each other’s presence and, after they allow themselves to be welcomed by each other, wonder and joy in Jesus Risen. At our best, trying to be church, we begin to look and sound like them before the Resurrection.
Have a blest weekend; Weather.Com shows lots of peeks of sun today and tomorrow, some spring rain Sunday.
Today’s Post – Joy Harjo “Grace”
I think of Wind and her wild ways the year we had nothing to lose and lost it anyway in the cursed country of the fox. We still talk about that winter, how the cold froze imaginary buffalo on the stuffed horizon of snowbanks. The haunting voices of the starved and mutilated broke fences, crashed our thermostat dreams, and we couldn’t stand it one more time. So once again we lost a winter in stubborn memory, walked through cheap apartment walls, skated through fields of ghosts into a town that never wanted us, in the epic search for grace.
Like Coyote, like Rabbit, we could not contain our terror and clowned our way through a season of false midnights. We had to swallow that town with laughter, so it would go down easy as honey. And one morning as the sun struggled to break ice, and our dreams had found us with coffee and pancakes in a truck stop along Highway 80, we found grace.
I could say grace was a woman with time on her hands, or a white buffalo escaped from memory. But in that dingy light it was a promise of balance. We once again understood the talk of animals, and spring was lean and hungry with the hope of children and corn.
I would like to say, with grace, we picked ourselves up and walked into the spring thaw. We didn’t; the next season was worse. You went home to Leech Lake to work with the tribe and I went south. And, Wind, I am still crazy. I know there is something larger than the memory of a dispossessed people. We have seen it.
© 1990 Joy Harjo. In Mad Love and War, Wesleyan University.