Since we've had kids, I usually go to Holy Thursday alone and Phillip goes to Good Friday alone. It's not ideal, but it works for us. Especially since I dread Good Friday every year. DREAD. I feel absolutely terrible saying that, but it's true, and if it helps, I also feel absolutely terrible for not going and for being relieved that I'm not going. The Good Friday liturgy just does me in.
This year I have extra guilt because I didn't go to Holy Thursday either! A perfect storm of PMS, monster children, a home-late-from-work husband, Spring Break crazies, and did I mention the PMS? turned me into a sobbing mess last night. The absolute last thing I wanted to do was be around MORE people. I could have skipped it and gone directly to Adoration, which is probably the thing I needed most, but I didn't do that either. I walked up and down grocery store aisles, hiding my red eyes, and tried to calm down and breathe.
I felt better today, but I don't want to go to Good Friday even when I'm feeling fantastic. And Phillip does. Where I am liturgy-averse he craves the somber tones of the cathedral, the candles, the dark, the heavy imposing cross, the choir droning, "Were You There". So it works out well, our little arrangement.
I stayed home and atoned for my miserable parenting of the previous night. I was a much nicer mother. I hardly yelled at all. And when it was time to put the big kids to bed I told them to go find their Jesus Storybook Bible and we would read about Good Friday.
I read the stories I normally totally avoid when we're reading the Jesus Storybook Bible, which, if you don't have one, may I suggest you drop everything and order it this instant? It is SO great for kids. It is so great for ME.
But really, is there anything that can truly totally explain Jesus dying on the cross? My poor kids. They asked question after question and their horribly unprepared and ill equipped mother answered the best she could. What does "pay the price" mean to a five-year-old?! And honestly, when you start to share the story of how God chose to save the world, it sounds insane. The whole thing. I believe this stuff? REALLY?
Except I do! I really do. Even when I hear myself repeat the crazy stories to my kids, deep underneath I know I believe and I know I want them to believe. I believe the son of God paid for all the terrible things I've done and all the terrible things I will do. I believe that because he died for me, I will get to spend eternity with him and his Father. I believe he would have died on that cross only for me. What greater love! What fantastical mind-blowing love!
Earlier today I pulled out Phillip's guitar and my crumpled collection of worship music, culled from numerous conferences and prayer groups. I have some favorites, some I always hear on Christian radio, some I've never heard anywhere else but the small hotel room in which I prayed with strangers. I taught myself the most useful chords in college and I still remember the easiest ones. I sang to myself (to God?) while the kids ate dinner and watched a TV show. I sang, "worthy is the Lamb that was slain for us". I sang, "O death, where is your sting?" I sang, "You are stronger, you are stronger, sin is broken, you have saved me, it is written Christ is risen, Jesus you are Lord of all."
Lent, man. I hope every year I can hack it, but no, I still sacrificed poorly. I still dreaded Holy Week. I still didn't have a Meaningful Lent. I don't ever feel like I'm doing Lent the right way (compounded by the fact that I am not particularly motivated to do so, alas), but Jesus has mercy on me! I believe this! (I have to believe this!) I feel like he says, "All right, Maggie, your Holy Week attendance is truly unimpressive, much like your singing voice, but I do like these songs, you can keep that up, that will do." No no, Jesus doesn't talk that way to me. It's more like, "One day you'll figure out the Triduum, but for now we can hang out and finally learn how to do B7m and that pesky F#. Got any wine?"
I mean, thank GOD this faith stuff is a JOURNEY, right?