This week I saw an article about the “unbusy pastor.” The long and short of the article was that a pastor is doing their best when they are able to be the non-anxious presence, which requires not always thinking ahead to the next thing. I’m sure you’re familiar with the busy I’m talking about - the to-do list for the day, those things that must get done, everything is reduced to being checked off a list. This morning, I ask us to consider what it means to not always worry about all of the factors and how to juggle, but how to be balanced.
My Lenten practice this year has been painting - to guide me, help me balance in the busy. Ii has been an interesting Lenten practice because I know the process ahead - that even within it there is a busy-ness I need to be wary of. I have been using the work of Melissa McCracken, a synesthetic artist, trying to work off of one of her pieces. The wires in her brain are crossed such that she actually sees music. How do you see music? How does she even do it, how does that work?
This question came up at the mulitcultural committee meeting this week. We did our devotional on this passage. In reading about the donkey and colt - this seeming circus-act of balancing - the question arose - “How is he even doing that?”
Moreover, how is he even “doing” this procession? How is he even facing these people, knowing that their betrayal will happen after? How can he face the crowd, knowing the crucifixion, the suffering at their hands to come? How does he find the space to both know the toughness ahead, as well as what beauty comes after. I wonder if his space-finding comes from linking the current reality with the future reality - the after beauty is connected to the current beauty - the shouts of that day mirror the shouts of joy after the resurrection.
And we must give some credit to the crowds. It is not their their hearts were untrue, not that their welcome was disingenuous. They had a moment of getting lost in the busy-ness - the business. Those same hearts later went on to spread the gospel: they came back, they gathered together again. They, too, came back ‘round again - perhaps not in entirely the same way, but certainly they came back round, connected to their last jubilance.
I know I am familiar with starting off with good intention, then shying away, then coming back around again. During the shy-away moments, we can hold onto that original good intention, enjoy the new possibilities. My Lenten practice of painting is a good example. My original intent was to be like the synesthetic artist Melissa McCracken, to work from one of her pieces. Often there were moments of failing at it and moving away, giving up for a bit - but then I’d come back. It’s something else now - this crazy piece I’m calling “The Firebird,”, but the same good intent is still behind it. I know I’m not a professional artist like she is. I know I will get to a point in painting where I get caught up in a part of it that I just can’t figure out, I get lost in the business (busy-ness) of failing to make it just like her. I know ahead of time there are ways in which I’m going to feel it impossible to figure out the how of it, deeming it more important that it live up to my model rather than intent (to create something evocative and beautiful) and walk away.
How like being a Christian! How like striving to live like Jesus. We are very much not Jesus. So there are going to be Holy Thursdays and Good Fridays. There is also always a resurrection, and it reflects the shouts of why we claim our Christianity in the first place, of our hosannas, of the Palm Sunday that claims Christ as our own.
We can claim the memory of that day, of the Palm Sunday, even with the knowledge that there will be difficulty, to forge ahead balanced with the knowledge, too, of a following resurrection. Balance, not of turning away from what lies ahead, but acknowledging it, and moving through being connected to the beauty of now, and with the sure faith that that beauty will blossom again. There is often the temptation to skip right to the resurrection. I offer to us the balance of this week. This week, you are invited to fully delve into Holy Thursday and Good Friday, to the hard places, the difficulty of what’s to come, knowing there, too, is the Easter Sunday. We are invited to remember the shouts and see them as premonitions of the resurrection. I invite us to take hold of the beauty before you this week and remember it in balance of the tough busy-ness that may also be ahead.
Photo by Zac Ong on Unsplash