A Hard Week in History
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way…”
From “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens
Not so long ago, it seemed that maybe this week could actually be the harbinger of a “spring of hope,” a time of re-awakening, a time when many of us could start feeling reasonably safe again roaming the grocery stores and shopping malls or dining out with friends without our masks. But it was also a week with tens of thousands still in hospital ICU’s and with more than 10,000 COVID deaths (despite readily available vaccines) here in the richest, most prosperous nation on earth. It was a week of sunshine and melting snows and a brief glimpse of the onrushing spring, but it was also a week of multiple deaths from tornadoes in Iowa… tornadoes that used to be unheard of this early this far north. It was a week of looking forward to spring and summer vacations, but it was also a horrific week with terrified children and fathers being torn apart and millions fleeing their homes in Ukraine to escape the killing machines of modern warfare.
It’s been a hard week for the world, and a really terrible week for the courageous people of Ukraine. It has also been a difficult week to sit down and focus my mind on writing a blog. Somehow, the opening paragraph of A Tale of Two Cities seemed to capture my mood perfectly as I tried my best to turn my thoughts towards the upcoming Holy Week rituals.
I tried to re-imagine the gospels as a sort of first century blog springing from the keyboard of one of Jesus’ more technically minded followers huddled in a dark shelter after experiencing the day of the crucifixion. I could see him smile as he relived and described the joyous moments of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, riding a donkey as the crowds greeted him with palm branches and shouts of hosanna!…“it was the spring of hope,” and recalled the dinner during which Mary broke out a bottle of expensive perfume and poured it over Jesus’ head and feet…. “it was the epoch of belief”… His smile turned into a look of worry as, in spite of the political climate, he summoned the courage to describe Jesus’ searing condemnation of the Pharisees, calling them hypocrites, blind fools, a brood of snakes and children of hell… “it was the age of foolishness”… And his worried face turned pale as the blood rushed away from his skin as he recounted his feelings of terror as the earth shook and the skies darkened...“it was the season of Darkness”…
In my imagination, he sat for a long time at his keyboard staring blankly at his screen, mired in fear and agony over the events that had just transpired on the slopes of Calvary… “it was the winter of despair”… At that moment, it would have been almost impossible for him to anticipate that in just three short days, the storyline would be completely transformed and history would be changed forever …”it was the season of Light.”
Perhaps, we all need to somehow return to that momentous week in the life of Jesus to reassure ourselves that in the very near future, the storyline will be transformed again…
May it be true for you and for me, and especially for those who are suffering the human tragedy of yet another war on this day…