After saying this Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, “Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.”
From John 13:21-32
Holy Week sneaks up on me every year. It’s not because I forget it’s coming. It sneaks up on me because just when I think I know what to expect, something shifts.
It feels like a betrayal of sorts.
I bargained with God. I promised to participate in certain rituals like communion, or baptism, and in return I get to control or at least predict how often I experience holiness.
When holy week comes along and I plan to attend extra worship services or wrap up the Lenten practices I’ve adopted for forty days in preparation for resurrection Sunday, I want so badly to control or predict how much God I will come into contact with. I want to hold up my end of the bargain. I don’t want any surprises, so I toe the line.
As sure as crocus flowers appear like gorgeous imposters in the muddy, icy grass—as if out of nowhere—the presence of God rises up all around and within me. I have to face the feeling of powerlessness in my gut that reminds me, I can’t control this, I can’t predict it, I can’t hold up my side of the bargain. I can’t pretend to know Christ… I don’t even know if I want to know Christ!
Jesus told his friends that there was one among them who would be caught off guard, break the promise, breach his internal boundaries and act outside of his integrity. They wanted to know which of them was weak or which was cruel or shortsighted.
The truth is that we all are all those things. We may want to control or predict Christ’s behavior and end up being dishonest or disloyal. We all might struggle with ambivalence and teeter on the edges of holy week rather than dive in. I know I do.
This year I’m going to try to act out of this awareness. I don’t know that I can change my behaviors, but I can at least be a little more aware that acting out of fear doesn’t keep me loyal.
So, like so many of Tacoma’s accidental urban farmers (who forget what we planted where during the sad grey days of spring) I’m going to watch where the crocus leaves rise.
I’m keeping an eye out for the surprise reminders: garlic, asparagus, daffodils, tulips and hyacinth that stab their unpredictable and wild leaves, like so many knives, through sod, compost, dried leaves, or mulch. They rise up and shake it off. They claim their rightful place among the holy muck and remind me that this season is about so much more than I can control or predict.
Dwelling Among Us
Is there a word or phrase that stands out to you? What is it calling forth?
What are you trying to control this week? How does your fear lead you to disloyalty? What unexpected, uncontrollable signs of life do you see?
If you want to watch the veggies rise, volunteer at Hilltop Urban Gardens. They host volunteer hours every Saturday to provide a more just food system for the Hilltop neighborhood.