I write this in the time between Ascension and Pentecost, an awkward moment in the Liturgical Year, when Easter is beginning to feel like a distant memory, and Pentecost, when we await a great birthing of the Spirit. There are other in-between moments in our faith, Holy Saturday is an obvious good example.
A friend of mine shared with me a little book called Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson, winner of the PEN/Hemmingway Award. Although I have not started it yet, the piece I want to share with you from the book is a pensive and beautifully written description of the life of Jesus. It is a wonderful pondering of this very in-between moment. A pondering of what it must have been like to have Jesus be with us in the flesh and then feel his “lack”.
Read this slowly and with care for the words.
“And while He was on earth He mended families. He gave Lazarus back to his mother, and to the centurion he gave his daughter again. He even restored the severed ear of the soldier who came to arrest Him—a fact that allows us to hope the resurrection will reflect a considerable attention to detail. Yet this was no more than tinkering. Being man [Jesus] felt the pull of death, and being God He must have wondered more than we do what it would be like. He is known to have walked upon water, but He was not born to drown. And when He did die it was sad—such a young man, so full of promise, and His mother wept and His friends could not believe the loss, and the story spread everywhere and [those who were] mourning would not be comforted, until He was so sharply lacked and so powerfully remembered that his friends felt Him beside them as they walked along the road, and saw someone cooking fish on the shore and knew it to be Him, and sat down to supper with Him, all wounded as He was. There is so little to remember of anyone—an anecdote, a conversation at table. But every memory is turned over and over again, every word, however chance, written in the heart in the hope that memory will fulfill itself, and become flesh, and that the wanderers will find a way home, and the perished, whose lack we always feel, will step through the door finally and stroke our hair with dreaming, habitual fondness, not having meant to keep us waiting long.”
I hope Pentecost does not keep us waiting too long.