Making sense

Anne Lamott, on writing ...

"We are a species that needs and wants to understand who we are. Sheep lice do not seem to share this longing, which is one reason why they write so little. But we do. We have so much we want to say and figure out.”

Friday, April 18, 2014

No meat, no music, and the Gospel According to Mark

Today is Good Friday. Despite careful planning, I have already messed up what I consider a Good Catholic Woman's Good Friday Observance.
First, I slept in past 9 a.m. Specifically, I got out of bed at 10:42, which is one hour and forty-two minutes past the time Jesus was nailed to the cross. My plan was to be wide awake, sitting in my comfy chair, sans barking dogs and the Rachael Ray show. The plan was already to have read the Gospel According to Mark, so that I would be ready for prayerful meditation by nine clock chimes.
Instead, I lazily got out of bed late, sneezing and befuddled as to why I had six random maroon spots on my forehead. I took a Zyrtec and my morning Prilosec and swiftly brewed a cup of hot coffee. I thought briefly that my itching throat and spotted forehead was a Significant Sign of Doom (i.e. impending death), but then I realized that Death by Hives was nothing compared to what our dear Lord and Savior endured in the hours leading up to his crucifixion. So I sucked up my anxiety and planted my butt in the comfy chair. First, I grabbed two of Estee's delicious gluten-free sugar cookies, which I realized, after immense enjoyment, were foodstuffs not on the list of Good Friday edibles. Also not on the list of Important Things to do on Good Friday was tending to my virtual bakery, Kay's Place, but I did, in fact, spend sixty seconds preparing pretend cinnamon rolls, all the while justifying my behavior by saying silently, It is only sixty seconds. Then I felt more than sixty seconds of guilt and got back on track.
Finally, I set my iPhone down and opened my Bible to the Gospel According to Mark and set to reading. After re-reading multiple times multiple verses, I remembered that I needed to pray for understanding of The Word. Which I did: Dear Lord, help me focus on your words; help me understand what you're saying; help me help myself. Amen.
Then God gave me the understanding of His word, because He knows my ADD is out-of-control and I am a deeply flawed (virtual slave to virtual games) and sinful woman (yes, I have thought of other men, lots of times) AND my memory sucks and even passages I've read before present themselves as brand-new sentences.
And yet. The Gospel According to Mark made sense to me, because I had prayed for it to be so. Well, all except the part about the widow Herodias who wanted John the Baptist to marry her and when he refused, she got extraordinarily angry and that anger flowed into her daughter and after that daughter had danced for Herod at his birthday banquet, he said he'd give her anything in his kingdom and she said she wanted John the Baptist's head on a platter. (Mark 6: 1-29)
It was my daughter Estee, who sat at her computer in another room who heard me muttering, I don't get this. I'm missing something --words which I thought were silent but ended up not silent at all. Like I said, she was in a completely different room in the house and still heard me. She explained easily and my confusion disappeared, and I am here to tell you now, that for a person who says she detests religion, she sure knows her Bible.
Also, there was the part about the woman telling Jesus even the dogs ate the children's scraps under the table (Mark 7:24-30). I had to reread that part no fewer than five times AND consult an online explanation (It is, yet again, a parable. The children represent the prior claim of the Jews to the ministry of Jesus: let them eat first.) I had remembered this parable causing confusion the first time I heard Father Jeff at St. Ann's talk of it in his homily.  I had finally gotten the message. But then I had forgotten it. Like I said, my memory is one big fat marshmallow: sweet but little substance.
I am a child of God, however. I am learning.

Mark 15:33-41: At noon darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three o'clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?" which is translated, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Some of the bystanders who heard it said, "Look, he is calling Elijah." One of them ran, soaked a sponge with wine, put it on a reed, and gave it to him to drink, saying, "Wait, let us see if Elijah comes to take him down." Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. The veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom. When the centurion who stood facing him saw how he breathed his last he said, "Truly this man was the Son of God!" There were also women looking on from a distance. Among them were Mary of Magdalene, Mary the mother of the younger James and of Joses, and Salome. These women had followed him when he was in Galilee and ministered to him. There were also many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem.

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