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On the Way   The Rt. Rev. Audrey Scanlan
alone
Automat Edward Hopper 1927

Well, I’m not really alone.

I spent five more hours on Zoom today. I have listened all day to the soft creaking of the floorboards over my head as my husband moves back and forth in front of his stand -up desk in his office, just above the kitchen where I have set up camp.

I enjoyed some of my meetings today from screened-in back porch and I was able to watch two neighbors chatting in the back yard, next door, at an appropriate social distance. I watched a squirrel boldly swing on the bird feeder with one arm wrapped ’round and claw out, with its tiny fingers, sunflower seeds and millet, and peanuts- frantic and greedy. I saw the cats basking on the rock in the sun, also appropriately distanced from each other. They stayed there for a long while.

Staying at Home is much simpler for me than it is for many with whom I’ve been talking- parents coaxing their school-aged children into doing their cyber-lessons; others balancing toddlers on one knee while taking conference calls and creating spread sheets; elders waiting for the grocery delivery, the call from harried and fearful children, the pharmacy delivery van. Staying at Home can be hard. We’ve talked about this before. It is still hard.

This is the first Holy Week in – my whole life- that I have been alone with Jesus. Alone with the disciples to see how they carry on, fussing at the table, anxiously trying to decode the words of their teacher. This is the first Holy Week in which I have been able to rest in my living room chair and travel to Jerusalem, to the Upper Room, to the Garden, and to Gethsemane- and to linger there, in the shadows, for as long as I have wanted.

You see, usually on these days, I am wearing an alb and a stole, carrying a hymnal and crozier, balancing my mitre and fiddling with the microphone buttons in my pocket. Usually I am scanning the room for lectors, measuring the pace of the liturgy, watching my breathing, projecting my voice, bowing from the waist, taking care not to spill the Cup and holding the Bread up so high that even the fellow in the very back pew can see it- the morsel of flour and water, given for him, that will sustain his soul.

I enjoyed (an early preview for me) the Service of Tenebrae from the Cathedral late this afternoon. I didn’t want to miss it and, scheduled for another meeting at 7 PM, I was able to gain an advance copy. I let the simplicity of the service guide me; charcoal slides and soft white words, the neutrality of the presentation providing a frame for the richness of text: scripture, poetry, artwork, hymns.

The stark story of Jesus’ betrayal, arrest, scourging and crucifixion bled

redorangebluegreenpurpleochreblackyellowindigo

against those soft and neutral slides.

The words of poetry

sangscreamedwonderedcriedshoutedwhispered

in my ears

The artwork and hymns

illuminatedshonejarreddugdeeplyunearthed

the sad, loving, sacrifice of it all.

It was good to be alone for this. It gave me a new intimacy with the one whom I call Christ, and who suffered for the ages.

I love leading worship. I miss leading worship, in spite of my clumsiness. Because in community worship, I am not alone, I am embraced by the wholeness of God.

But for now, alone is offering me something new that is plunging depths and growing in me all sorts of wonder and learning and amazement. It is grace, I think.

How are you doing in your aloneness? How is it shading your Holy Week?

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