I wasn’t going to post (or think) about Good Friday this year, but then two things happened.
First, we hired men with ladders and wire to trap and remove the squirrel that has been eating through our house. It was awful. I had to put a towel up over the window because I couldn’t watch. I don’t know exactly what awaits her, but I suspect that it’s not good. (Were I a more romantic sort, I’d imagine them relocating her to Chicago, where all the buildings are brick and she can co-exist more happily with humans and their dwellings. But I doubt that’s what’s happening.)
Then I started reading a memoir by a Vietnamese refugee, called Where The Wind Leads. It tells the story of how he and his family were driven from Vietnam by Communist takeover. It’s harrowing. I couldn’t go to bed last night because I couldn’t stop reading the chapter where their boat, long adrift, finally lands in Malaysia. After a few strange days, they’re told by the Malaysian authorities to load into smaller boats so they can be towed to an island refugee camp. They’ve heard horrific things about this island, but know it’s a place to start, so they’re excited to get there. They’re told it will take 2 hours. But after about 2 days of being towed, the Malaysian captain cut the ropes connecting them and says, “You’re on your own now.” He and his crew abandoned these 4 boats packed with people in the middle of the South China Sea, leaving them to die. It was efficient , the author explains, because the sea would take care of their bodies so the Malaysian government would not be responsible for disposal.
Good Friday seems like an appropriate day to contemplate how horrible we can be to each other. For anyone who looks at humanity and sees us all as essentially good, there’s not much in history to support that perspective. Left to our own devices, we are awful.
But we’re not left to our own devices.
I love this, from Pastor Rick Warren, describing the challenge of facing this first Holy Week since his son committed suicide last year:
“The death, and the burial, and the resurrection of Jesus happened over three days. Friday was the day of suffering and pain and agony. Saturday was the day of doubt and confusion and misery. But Easter, that Sunday, was the day of hope and joy and victory.
You will face these three days over and over and over in your lifetime. And when you do, you’ll find yourself asking, as I did, three fundamental questions: Number one, what do I do in my days of pain? Two, how do I get through my days of doubt and confusion? Three, how do I get to the days of joy and victory?
The answer is Easter.”
Easter is the answer. To our pain and failure, our awfulness. Jesus’ victory over death means something.
I don’t know exactly what yet, and I certainly can’t derive any larger meaning from the removal of the squirrel. Or how there are similar exodus situations taking place across the world right now. Today is not the day to figure things out. As Warren says, there are three days between the death and the resurrection. But as I think about how horrible we can be, I get to hope that there’s more to the story. That’s a gift.