after the walk, i was so overcome by emotion that i elected to head home instead of spending the rest of the beautiful day with my beautiful friends. but chrissy and i made plans to meet up a bit before Good Friday services.
as i mentioned before, i love Good Friday services. and, 2 years ago, after my mom died, i remember going to the service and just feeling, viscerally, what that liturgical celebration meant. i mean, how could we do other than gather together, with no pomp or circumstance, and just be sorrowful together? i was especially excited to experience Good Friday in this new Catholic community i'm part of. i usually leave Mass energized, enriched, and a little closer to God, so i knew my favorite liturgical celebration would be no exception.
little did i know.
the mass began in the usual Good Friday way - the cross was processed in by our priest, two altar servers, and a woman i recognized who was also dressed a bit like an altar server but older. as they approached the altar, our priest went to sit down in the pews, and this woman took her place on the altar. she was our presider for the night. i was at a liturgical celebration being led by a woman. and, you know what? the world didn't end. i wasn't smited. i didn't feel like any less of a Catholic. it was jarring - i was concerned that my priest would be punished for this, that people would come out of the woodwork to harass him, like i'd been harassed for even being friends who worked with people who attended a female ordination. last night, i realized that, even though i am no longer a paid employee of the Catholic Church, i still carry all the same prohibitions in my head. i still worry that a certain woman is out there, just waiting to write vicious things about me on her blog as soon as she determines i've stepped out of line, liturgically. and, you know what? i never really did during that time, but fat lot of good that did me. being persecuted for not taking liturgical risks or testing what i believe had a certain amount of value. now i'm really going to test it - i attended a Good Friday liturgy led by a woman who hopes to be ordained, and it was one of the most beautiful Good Friday services of my life. to hear jesus' voice as feminine was particularly moving. the homily's point - that we're all the same at the foot of the cross - was exactly what my weary, humiliated soul needed to hear after the many and intense feelings of the walk earlier. i was sitting amongst my favorite people, and i could tell how moved we all were. some of these folks have risked a lot to talk about their feelings on women's ordination - more than i ever risked while working for the church. and, while i still have a long way to go to figure out what i believe, now that i'm not the director of anything, it was the first time i finally addressed the fear i'd held on to from that job - fear of being judged, fear of doing or believing the "wrong" thing, fear that every time i question or don't understand, i'll be persecuted and called names for all to see. enough.
i started thinking about mom, like i always do on Good Friday now. i remember saying, in my thoughts, "MOM! there's a woman leading this service? aren't you just DYING right now?" she said, no, it happens all the time there. that was nice to think about...
i also started thinking about how much she would like (and perhaps be a little confused by) the life i live now. one thing she wanted was for me to finally end the tyranny of other people's opinions in my life. it just killed me that i wasn't able to show her how far i've come, how much this community and this life heals me and helps me take risks. that's one thing i miss the most, but, paradoxically, i don't know if it would have happened if she hadn't died. her death made me brave in a bitter way, but that's been transforming into a blessing day by day. i think she might have some part in that, even if i can't tell...
i was so overwhelmed with the feelings of the day, that i just wept. usually, i had to weep in public (unless it's over movies or Biggest Loser episodes). i read the entire funeral eulogy without crying. i didn't let anyone see me cry either of mom's death anniversaries. it makes me itchy and miserable and uncomfortable in my own skin. but, that's not a really honest way to live. and i was too tired to self-edit. and i'm tired of pretending not to be broken and questioning and confused when i am most of those things, especially this week. and, i don't know if it was the spirit of the day or having a woman leading things, but it felt just a little bit more okay to fall apart. so i did. and, once again, the world didn't end. i wasn't crying alone. i imagined that the apostles would have found it strange if anyone ever did make it through that day with dry eyes.
i don't know what to tell my friends back home about my experience Friday. even writing it out makes me realize how different my catholicism feels now than in the past. it feels more authentic, but also more challenging and probably less comfortable to people i know and love. it's sad to think about that right now.
but it's officially Easter. and we are ALL an Easter People living in a Good Friday world, as someone once said. I know now that the emotions of Good Friday, especially this one, are what make the Resurrection flower and what helps to strengthen us for the Savior's ascension, when we'll be once again alone, save the Holy Spirit. Jesus wouldn't really have lived enough if we didn't grieve his death with every fiber of our being, and try to find him everywhere we can. i'm grateful for a Good Friday that helped me see that truth...