Monday, March 29, 2010

30 Days of Hearing -- Passover

"Why is this night different from all other nights, from all other nights?" Those are the words I should be hearing tonight. Tonight is Passover and I was invited to attend the seder at my friend's (and little Jewish brother) Aaron Spiegel's home.

But, alas, the angel of death did not completely passover our family and so I am, tonight, instead of remembering Passover with the Spiegel's, composing the words for a funeral service of my Uncle Vinnie.

Ah, the angel of death. Whose visitation comes to us ready or not, in season or out, in the fullness of our old age or in taken too soon of youth. Whose whisper we hear in our soul's ears almost from the earliest days of our lives. Of whose presence we are always reminded ... whether in a formal Passover meal or in the diseases and wars and traumas that beset ones we know and many we do not.

And yet, ... yet... we live in the face of that visitation. And, tonight, I being the one not dead, am writing a meditation and continuing to live. And I am comforted, too, by the presence of the ever living Christ. Not in a "happy" sort of way, but in the way that, as Isaiah says, he was ... " a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief." As Emily Dickinson once wrote, "When he [Jesus] tells us about his Father, we distrust him. When he shows us his Home, we turn away, but when he confides to us that he is 'acquainted with grief,' we listen, for that also is an acquaintance of our own."

Evangeline Paterson's poem "Deathbed" (which I will read as part of my uncle's service) says,

Now, when the frail and fine-spun
Web of mortality
Gapes, and lets slip
What we have loved so long
From out our lighted present
Into the trackless dark
We turn, blinded,
Not to the Christ in Glory,
Stars about his feet,

But to the Son of Man,
Back from the tomb,
Who built fires, ate fish,
Spoke with friends, and walked
A dusty road at evening.

Here, in this room, in
This stark and timeless moment,
We hear those footsteps
With suddenly lifted hearts
The irrelevance of death.

Fitting words indeed, for Passover or Passion Week or Ordinary Time.

"Why is this night different from all other nights?" Not to diminish Passover or its rituals, which I hold dear, but one reason is because this night is a night in which I am alive and others are not... even others which were alive just awhile ago. And those words remind me that I am called to live my life fully and well in the days and nights that remain to me. And that, as a Christian, there is One who has made the angel of death irrelevant.

-- Brent

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