Walking down the hallway in my home, I glanced into the nursery which is in the process of being reclaimed and one word came to mind, “waiting.” The pale blue walls have been retouched and the trim work accepted a fresh coat of white paint. The unfinished door was finally finished and the little boys’ furniture has vacated the space. Now just a naked changing table and an empty dresser have moved in, along with an unoccupied bassinet.
Entranced for a moment, I imagine the day when the little room will spring back to life. Bustling with activity, as baby is swayed to sleep in that bassinet by a sibling, diapered on that table by daddy or when those dresser drawers are receiving tiny, folded onsies. But for today, the bare floor and sparse furnishings remind me that we are waiting, patiently anticipating.
While all of Lent signifies a period of waiting, Palm Sunday invites us, like an open door, to reflect in earnest on the week of waiting that lies ahead.
Imagine Preparing The Way
Imagine the Apostles’ thoughts as Jesus directed them to seek out the young colt and upper room. What odd requests those may have seemed on first hearing. If in their shoes, I’d have been excited and perhaps a bit anxious searching to fulfill my Lord’s command. Waiting to see if those prophesied resources were so easily secured.
Envision reclining at table with Jesus, listening to the sound of His calm, mysterious words as He offers His Body and Blood for the first time. So many struggle with this abstruse teaching that they give up and flee the room. He speaks of a coming time when He’ll no longer be present, how confusing and worrisome. Perhaps, the Apostles desire a further explanation, but instead they must wait to fully comprehend the meaning of all that they are witnessing.
Accompany our Sweet Lord into the Garden of Olives, kneel beside Him on that solid earth. Consider the spark of His Passion as Jesus beholds the face of each and every one of us (you and me). Two thousand years ago He studied your face, watched your life unfold, contemplated you while in the Garden and chose to offer Himself in reparation for your sins. He accepted your punishment. Fervently praying to the Father, the first drops of precious blood beaded on His tense brow in anticipation of what was to come. The Apostles, too weary to wait, drift off to slumber. Jesus, in solitude, remains alert; listening for the footsteps of His betrayer.
Upon the arrival of Judas’ kiss, how rapidly the setting transforms. Angry soldiers, confounded Apostles, an accursed betrayer and Jesus are triggered into action. But what does Jesus say when His followers draw their swords in His defense? He admonishes them. Further waiting is required as they witness the arrest of an innocent, the Son of God.
Enduring In Silence As The Accusations Fly
How do we endure in silence as the accusers line up to utter false statements against our beloved? Hearts pounding, heads spinning, we bite down hard to keep our tongues still, fearing for our own lives. Helplessly we’ll remain around the fray awaiting the verdict.
My heart breaks for our Blessed Mother, as the crowds demand the death of her only child. Each moment of torture seems unending as Jesus waits in between the cracks of a whip. Who can endure the thought without retreating into distraction? Ears cannot bear to imagine the grueling sound and yet she, along with His dear ones, listens and waits for the end.
From the sidelines, picture His torn shoulders buckling under the weight of that heavy, wooden cross. Broken and drained, Jesus struggles to lift His feet and propel Himself forward; forward to more agony. Breathing seems a chore as we bridle our want to run to our Lord, to lift that burden from Him.
It’s noon when His arms are stretched across that timber and with every smash of the hammer, His gentle hands are pierced more deeply. It seems as though our waiting may never be over. Several years ago, my family was audience to a reenactment of the Passion. In place of nails, the actor was secured to a cross with tight ropes. There was a moment when they up-righted the lumber that the actor was visibly pained and it took my breath away to see it. He remained tied there for some time and all that I could think about was wanting the play to end.
Our Lady and St. John stand vigil at the foot of that cross as the hour hand creeps around the clock again and again. And then that heart-wrenching utterance sounds as Jesus cries out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” (“My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”) Who can withstand another second? If you’ve ever cradled a dying loved one in your arms, you know the conflict. Your heart aches wanting to keep them close, alive, but you pray for the suffering to be finished, for death to free them.
The World Itself Cries Out
In the hour of mercy the world itself is shaken, the sun hides its face and the Sanctuary veil tears in two, as Jesus relinquishes His Spirit. His lungs release a last breath. How eager His mother is to receive Him back in her motherly embrace, but again she waits on the cruel soldiers, witnessing their callous actions.
Finally, our dear Christ’s body is delicately wrapped in fresh linens, loving laid in the unoccupied tomb. We see the massive stone rolled into place, blotting Him from our eyes.
Today, we know the joyous ending that awaits us next Sunday. With perspective, we are privileged to appreciate what came on the third day. But before we arrange our Easter celebrations this year, let us first reside in the periods of waiting. Savor the week ahead. Meditate on the footprints which carry us from Holy Thursday through Good Friday. Sacrifice our time and accompany our Lord throughout the week’s memorial Masses.
As my journey through motherhood has taught me, waiting is a necessary part and tasting the bitterness of sorrow first, makes the flavor of glory all the sweeter.