Just now I'm back from a lovely little service at the church, this Maundy Thursday, eve of the Crucifixion. It was just the Reverend Mother, three women parishioners in the pews, and myself at the organ, in attendance. Which brought to mind questions of -- will the show go on, if there are so few people? But indeed it did, and do you know, it hardly mattered (to me) that there were so few – just instantly this very intimate 'communion' formed, of those of us who were there. It was really very moving, and informal, each of us participated in some way -- one of the women doing the readings, another incanting prayers from the Book of Common Prayer, me playing the offertory hymn. At the end of the service, the Reverend invited each of us to help her 'strip the altar,' removing all that was meaningfully accumulated there -- tall sacred candles, chalice, white cloths, a pair of potted palms, assorted hymnals... It did remind me of the 'stage business' one sees, removing props from one scene, in utter silence, in preparation for the next act.
I obviously take a very personal approach and interpretation to Gospel readings, as I hear them as if (or may as well be) for the first time, during each service I attend. And I thought about my new friend, who I'd had a lovely, comfortable time with, just talking, talking -- at the café; then seated bundled up on a bench in the park, the day sunny but deceptively & frustratingly blustery & unexpectedly cold -- and more plans & ideas & formulations were contemplated & laid, with me charged with a bit of homework, as to possible mid-way points -- and we kissed, sealed -- as with the most luscious pouring of warm melted wax on an envelope to shut it tight against others' prying eyes and embossed with our own wild imprimatur.
I really love what I hear in the Gospels -- for example, this evening, towards dusk, at the simple eloquent service, from John 13:1-17, what Jesus says to his disciples, on the final evening of his life...
I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.Dearest, that is all I need to know, to feel really fantastically full of the spirit, writing to you, thinking very warmly of the wonderful man I breakfasted with last week (even if it didn't 'happen' between us), and now my new friend, where it is 'happening,' and things aren't easy -- and neither of us is, or planning, to be or run for some higher political office, Governor, or POTUS -- and so we can be flawed, vulnerable, loving, desperate, brave, amazing, beautiful, energetic, wise, super-alive human beings reaching out in the tenderest ways, amid trying circumstances, to which we return, and connect, and talk, and listen, and love, and kiss, and part company, in the hope of return.