Friday, April 02, 2010

One Good Friday

It's hard to submerge oneself in the passion of Good Friday on such a splendiferouly gorgeous day. So many temptations along the way. Blue, blue sky. Refreshingly warm breezes. Flowers and trees shamelessly a-bloom. New York City is like some lovable, giddy old tart, strutting her stuff and linking arms with you, begging for a little hilarious quality time.

And, OK, I let the old girl drag me around for part of the morning, but at noon, I gave her the slip and ducked into St. Bartholomew's for the Good Friday service.

I love "The Three Hours" Good Friday service. (Yes, it lasts three hours.) St. Bart's is dark and cool and Byzantine, so it helps shut out the sunny, crazy stuff happening outside its Park Avenue doors. I chose a pew near the front on the far left side and did my best to turn down my Type-A brain.

I cherish the readings of the seven Last Words, each given due reverence with music from the choir, a meditation by one of the clergy, prayer and silence, and a hymn. I love singing those passion hymns: "Ah, holy Jesus, how has thou offended," "Beneath the cross of Jesus," "Were you there," "My song is love unknown," "When I survey the wondrous cross," and "O sacred head, sore wounded."

The service bids me stop, leave the outside world outside, and attend to the message. Three hours is not too long to ask. Still, I wouldn't be able to stay for the whole thing if I didn't have the day off (one of the perks of working at the Church Center). Back in Atlanta, I'd only get to stay for a couple of the sets before going back to work. I like that I get the opportunity to block everything out for three whole hours now.

After the service and the tolling of the bell, I left the dark stone church and went back out into the blinding sunlight. My old friend was waiting for me. The 3-hour darkness not forgotten, I let her spirit me through Midtown and back up to Spanish Harlem, loving the sunshine, breezes, and flowers. I considered it a promise of things to come on Sunday.

A Blessed Good Friday to all.

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