What makes Good Friday, good?

 

What makes Good Friday, good?

 

Good Friday? What on earth makes such a day good?

Celebrating the hideous death of a good man, and the craven flight of his supposedly loyal followers?

Or the fact that we at the other side of the story know the ending?

Imagine how that day must have been for those involved. The disciples scattered, all their dreams and hopes in tatters, fearing for their own lives. Only a few, like Jesus’ mother, and John(according to some) daring to stay and watch, weeping as someone they loved died a slow and excruciating death; the rest hiding and quivering at every footfall that came near their door.

The veil in the temple was torn as Jesus died, torn in two against the weave of the cloth, and the sky became dark, if you believe the Gospels. It must have seemed that the world was ending, or was close to the end, to the friends and family who had seen the rise and the promise of Jesus’ ministry. Their own deaths would follow soon, hunted down by the authorities and exterminated as subversive vermin.

I’ve often thought about what Jesus himself felt, whether he knew the ending of the story, or whether, like his friends, he had no idea how things would pan out. I’m never sure how much accretion the Gospels contain, of things attributed after the event. But whatever the case, to go through death, and the cruel death by Roman-style crucifixion……the agony is beyond imagining. Few people will ever experience such pain, such anguish.

My own experience of pain and of internal anguish are tiny in comparison and yet, they give me a slight insight into the experience, which is the most anyone can hope for. My struggles with despair, depression and anxiety, are nothing and yet, they bring me the gifts of compassion and empathy. When I suffer my Good Fridays, as I do periodically, I never know for sure that there will be, this time, an Easter morning, that I will rise again. Experience and knowledge tell me there will be and yet, I doubt it. Each crisis is like the first, the only crisis, as I live through it. I try to record my passage through times like these in poetry and in prose in the hopes that I can remind myself of the promise of resurrection, and that others too might find hope in it.

Good Friday

(me to Jesus/Jesus to me)

Nail me to that cross again

Why don’t you?

You’ve done it before

And you’ll do it again.

Here, I’ll even hold

My hands out for you,

Pass the hammer,

Hold the nail steady.

Bang! It’s done,

All over, bar the shouting.

Long day, arms outstretched,

Breath ragged, pain white hot.

Sky darkens, night begins.

Death, a relief, a release,

The cool of the tomb

A simple comfort, unexpected

After the heat of the day.

Comfort too in acceptance

Of the inevitable, peace even.

Sleep now: the worst is over.

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4 thoughts on “What makes Good Friday, good?

  1. What does Good Friday mean to me?

    Nothing.

    Nothing in the sense of emptiness. Hopelessness, not despair. Despair is too positive, too definite. Just nothing. Helplessness.

    The sort of emptiness you feel when someone very close dies. Until that moment there is still hope. They are still there with you. Logically you know that it is only a matter of time, a very short time. But there still is time. Then the person dies. And, well there is nothing.

    But everything is the same. Nothing has changed.

    The birds still sing. People still work. The sun still shines. But not on me. For me there is only nothing. My body may feel the heat but the sun is not real. Nothing is real. The impossible has just happened.

    I have looked over into an abyss. An emptiness without end. And without warning I am now falling. There was no drama, no metaphorical push. It just happened when I wasn’t looking.

    That is Good Friday for me. I am blessed or cursed with a good imagination. So I start standing with Mary, and the disciple whom Jesus loved. I am standing watching. Logical hope is gone. But this is not a time for logic.

    Then Jesus despairs, “Eloi Eloi lama sabachthani?” – my God, my God why have you forsaken me!”

    And hope dies.

    There is nothing and I am falling once again. It is strange but the emptiness, the falling, the hopelessness doesn’t preclude action. I can still function, smile and carry on. Just like it doesn’t stop the sun shining.

    But it’s not real. There is only nothing.

    That is what Good Friday, or Holy Friday means to me. It means that I have to share in that holiness, that separateness. Separateness from life and hope. I enter the nothingness.

    Amen.

  2. Viv, a woman actually asked this question today. I am going to send her your blog link.

    Have I remembered to tell you that I thoroughly appreciate your blog? Your authenticity must help many, many people!

    • I am deeply touched by your words, my dear, as quite often I consider the effort I put into this blog and into my writing and wonder what’s the point of it all? I think, I hope, what I do helps people but I have so little actual proof that I get doubly downcast about it. I want, I need to change the world and yet, I can’t change even very much about myself. So this sort of feedback is very heartening.
      thank you!
      xx

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