Holy Thursday on the California Coast
Holy Week on the California coast, from Pt. Mendocino above San Francisco to the Mexican border, is a place of spring time sun, deep blue skies, and blossoming flowers. At the Equinox, the ocean loses its grayness and picks up more yellows, subtle greens and muted turquoise. The salt air becomes more pungent, as the kelp forests put on new growth to accommodate the explosion of trillions upon trillions of sea plants and animals. The succulents and coastal chaparral burst out in purples, roses, and pinks, peppered with the bright yellow of sour grass blossoms. The Santa Cruz redwoods seem to stretch, fresh washed from the winter storms, looking forward to the morning and evening fog that gives them sustenance and flourishes their layered ecosystems that change every 20 feet upward, dancing in the dappled ray filled sunlight of the forest canopy.
It is a time of happiness and rejoicing. Sunglasses come out, flip flops slap the pavement, and shorts replace the winter denim, even though the day time temperatures are barely in the mid-60s. It is the coming of First Summer, before the Fog Season that begins on Memorial Day in late May and ends on Labor Day in early September. On the Central Coast, we host our first guests during Spring Break and settle in to enjoy the peaceful days before our June to August onslaught of shivering, fog-bitten visitors and their much welcome tourist dollars.
Aren’t we supposed to be down or at least subdued during Holy Week? How can we rejoice Saturday evening and Easter if we have somehow not rationed that joy? We should at least lament our unfaithful adherence to our Lenten resolutions – right? Christ’s terrible torture and death stayed the arm of a rightfully vengeful Father, so shouldn’t we show at least some token of fear for not being swept out into hellfire? If God’s Spring and Passover are any indication, maybe Cotton Mather had it wrong. Maybe we are a lot more than “Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God.”
If we, and all creation, are the overflowing love of the Trinity, are we the products of a God who can somehow demand the death of the the Eternal Word Made Flesh, God’s very immediate recognition and instantaneous self-acceptance, who shares the eternal dance of the Three in the joy of the Holy Spirit? Yes, much of the language that shapes our souls is a reflection of the fallen world where the Word “pitched his tent” – the actual Greek expression we use in the Creed. Yes, Jesus died and saved us in his rising from the dead. Yes, Jesus is the Lamb of God. Yes, we are the reason, we are his motivation for sharing our lives and submitting to the capital punishment of being tortured to death by an occupying superpower. Perhaps, the gravest sin of pride is to even think that we were the cause. Yes, God as Love couldn’t bear to leave us to the fate of hatred, despair, and alienation.
Why should people celebrating their rescue be glum, depressed, lost in narcissistic guilt? Why is this night different from any other night? It is the Passover of the Lord. If we are not washed in joyful Spring, can we share the Passover meal? Can we have any part in Him?