the Pause

Driving home from our Good Friday service this evening, I was reminded of the night years ago when I went with my college friends to see The Passion of the Christ in theaters. I was worried about seeing the movie with so many people, because each of us responds to gravity in different ways. I didn't want to be pulled out of the experience because someone couldn't handle grief or awe in silence, and yet I also wanted to experience those things in community. It was a risk worth taking.

In the end I sat next to a good friend who understood more than most people how to serve and be served by others in the weighty moments. I don't think we said a word to each other during or after the film, but we certainly felt free to cry. Another friend drove me home, and we were mostly silent the entire way. I know that at some point we discussed it, but I can't remember when. Whenever it was, it was the right time.

Knowing the time, and understanding the space surrounding grief is something you learn when you live long enough with others. When my grandfather passed away in his hospice bed that we set up in the back room, I learned to take time with him, and I learned to take time with my father, and I learned to give time to my mother, and to give and not to give space.

When I look back at my richest friendships, the ones I miss most deeply, I see in them so many moments like this. When I came home for Christmas after my first semester at Wheaton and cried with Tara in her living room. Or the weekend spent on White Head Island off the coast of Grand Manan, sitting at the kitchen table and acknowledging in hushed whispers things that had gone unsaid for a painful year. On the hill outside Blanchard, in the strange cafeteria two minutes from my flat, on so many Starbucks patios across the country, and perhaps once in a Panda Express. We learn in community when to speak and to keep silent, how to hold and carry each other or simply to walk beside. That community might look silly sometimes, but there's nothing silly at the heart of it.

Good Friday is the one day every year when I learn and put into practice what I have learned everything about the pause, the time, the space, the wait. And every year on Good Friday I am grateful to those who have learned it with me. If you are one of them, I thank you. 

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