El Greco's depiction of this day in history lends a note of beauty mixed with pain, hints at gentleness in the same space as the grit of the cross. The surfaces appear far too smooth, bleeding wounds too small. But then, this is still early in the movement toward the cross. The darkness of the sky is already ominous. The hand of Jesus shows no sign of the driven nails to come, and he tenderly caresses the instrument of his own execution--how can that be?--as imploring eyes search upward.
I will lift up my eyes unto the hills from whence comes my strength.
Mel Gibson's movie The Passion, moves beyond fine brush strokes to fashion a far earthier rendering of the crucifixion of Christ. Palpable pathos is accomplished in modern artistry.
Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.
Even today's technology affords a quick glimpse at Good Friday here and wikipedia.
Fast facts for a fast food generation.
A tip of the hat of the curious replaces the bowed knee of the faithful. Expediency of the moment rules. We are drive-by people who are ever ready to move on.
Pulsing toward Easter, we are uncomfortable lingering too long at the foot of the cross.
Just this morning I gathered flowers from my yard before the rains come and threaten the blooms.
Purple verbena, azaleas, snapdragons are at their freshest, ready to adorn the cross Sunday morning in case the stormfront beats them down.
I'd rather dwell among the garlands of beauty than linger with the ashes of death. Give me the Alleluias over a black-draped cross any day. But we need to pause daily this Holy Week and keep remembering the price of freedom, lest we forget.
O, Sacred Head now wounded...
Freedom from condemnation, not freedom from pain. The life of faith does not come with Teflon coating. We need not expect smooth paths and unmarked hands like El Greco's above. Real life that we encounter will test us, sometimes leaving scars. The darkness and grief for so many with whom we suffer is not something we can pass over lightly. Some declare right now that they can't get over it at all. The scenes in the funeral home, the hospital rooms with friends we love attest that the sky has darkened again for too many. It's Friday. We taste the bitter pain of loss and the experience cost of loving. But disease and even death itself doesn't have the last word.
It's Friday. But Sunday's coming. And whether we feel it or not, whether we assent to it or not, the darkness will not overcome the light. This truth does not require our personal approval to operate. The light dispels darkness because that is the very nature of light.
The Light of Christ has come into the world.
I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. John 12:46
Easter is coming!