Sunday, April 16, 2017
April 16, 2017
Journey through Holy Week more meaningful than it had been in years. The men sang the Good Friday service. Standing on one place is, because of my back and my legs, the hardest and worst thing I can do, and of course most of what the choir does on holy weeks is to stand in one place. Entire Passion chanted Friday while we stand. I am in something approaching agony, and I remember all the verses where people long to share the agony of Christ, and I smile as much of an inward smile as I can imagine, doing so (weakly) without any such desire. Solemn and beautiful, nevertheless. One of my students followed me to the Good Friday service and claimed to be moved. Went to Tenebrae sung by Pastyme Friday night. One remembers those times when the singing was so perfect that music was heard perfectly, through a veil hardly a veil but a shimmer of light, and this was one of those times. The Des Pres Miserere was an entire world, one of the greatest pieces of music I have ever heard. At one point we were meant to kneel, and as I did my chest and sides were seized with brutal cramps. Again, I wondered if I were sharing in some medicinal portion of the Lord’s agony. I listened to myself breathing in little gasps against the chest-crushing pain. Good Saturday at the studio, interrupted by the wasteful extra rehearsal that is a tradition as immovable Easter. All hours of all days pulsating with vernal light. Holy Saturday was profound and beautiful to me. I was filled with joy when I was meant to be filled with joy. Sam came. It was not the place to ask him how and if he had been moved by it all, but I hope he was. Two services on Easter are too much for those who perform them, but just right, I suppose, for those who attend. Zach’s son was baptized at 9. Brunch with the usuals at Ambrosia, then a long, hard, restorative sleep. When I woke, I saw a white dove at pondside, pure white, not a mark on her. I watched while she took a drink and had a little bath. I turned my back for a moment, and when I turned back she was gone. I take her for an omen.
When I asked myself what the difference could be this year, I believed it must be the round of muscular prayers, quite recently, after my return from Venice, in which I faced my long rebellion and asked for the grace somehow to bring it to an end. I have been Satanic, in a way, though when applied to me the word is several sizes too big. I have wanted my will over the Lord’s. I fought the Lord because His will (for me) is antic and mine is just. I have considered–and I consider now–that what I want for my life is better than what the Lord wants for it, or to say it another way, the Lord has never seemed to want anything in particular, but only to thwart my vision and desire. Not that, he says, but never This. I did think and do think now that my insistence was right. But I am an old man and He has never yielded. People say “Give your will over to that Lord,” and maybe they are right. I couldn’t pray “Thy will be done,” but rather, “Let me find a way to pray ‘Thy will be done.’ Let me want you more than I want my life.” I don’t know where I am in this process, but I do find some peace, and could face Easter without bitter recrimination and regret. Could face it as though I myself were an unfolding flower, a white bird at the water’s edge.