Saturday, March 30, 2013

Holy Week Lament: Tamara Hill Murphy (Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!)

All week long I'd planned to tell a different story here today than what you'll read.  Instead -- in the silence of Holy Saturday -- I needed to remember yours.  To rehearse your faith and your grief because my own is so distracted.

Last night we attended the Good Friday service that Christ Church holds together with the hospitable Hope Chapel. On Thursday,  we wash feet and eat the Lord's supper before stripping the altar bare.  On Friday we sit in the dark, sing a few hymns and listen to stories.  Suffering stories framed in with the seven last sayings of the dying Christ. 

This morning, I sit shiva with your stories -- the seven from last night, the six before me this week of holy lament:

Kaley Hill Ehret (Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.)

Shannon Coelho (Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.)

Haley Ballast: (Woman, behold your son!)

Brian Murphy (My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?)

Nancy Gilmore Hill (I am thirsty.)

Sharon O'Connor (It is finished.)

Matthew Whitney

Father, into your hands I commit my spirit 
         Tamara Hill Murphy, Holy Saturday 2013

Because I've heard -- and haven't seen--

I know the end of the story.
Someone said this means we'll be 
than the twelve --
well, eleven.
Because I know the end of the story, 
I have a hard time seeing
It's too easy to skip that day
and say
Sunday's coming!

I need to hear middles of stories.

So I can see.  Maybe not hear or
see, but feel.

In the dark church last night, the woman

following her walker to the podium, she
told us she lost the ability to hold onto things
so a man carried her words to her (later, in the dark,
I saw him put the straps of her purse over his own shoulder).

She lost the ability to hold tightly
but not to laugh, or 
be held.
Another woman told us her mama's deathbed was the first time she said
"Your love was enough, mama." 
And then with a last look, two women

The middle of the story for the twenty-something,

perched on a stool as if her body were so light it might
slide onto the floor, assaulted by uncommon infection and
the still-celebrated church man whose side of the story weighed
more than her 

All week I heard stories here --

some beginning, some end, some
The middle of Sharon's
story, so nearly-capsized,
she must speak in boat metaphors (as I have just done).

In church, the six-foot-six bald man raised

up the microphone to get it close enough to his (surprisingly) 
quiet voice.
I  thought about Sharon then, when the man told his story with
boat metaphors -- the rolling on the floor in anguish 
like a riptide
of leukemia engulfing
his six-years-old
little girl.

The safe harbor of hope where
she just turned nine.

I gave up my house for Lent.  And certain intimate pleasures

my body is too wounded to enjoy.
It's a story middle.  And like every year on this 
I will write a letter.

I will use a pen to dig into the mounded death of
friendship, scooping for signs of life
onto a peace paper;
prayer of resurrection I do not expect any time soon.

A eulogy to an ex-friend:
I've given up hope for now, but let's put a pin in it --
until the One holding that first breath of 
once-dead for all the coming-alive-again in His 
unbloodied mouth
breathes hot life on us in the new city,
the new garden where we get to try again.

My pen a double-edged sword, pierces my own hypocrisy,
frees the spirit -- my spirit! --
the one I gave
to the wrong person.
I will pen-stab dead love with death-defying weapons:
I'm sorry,
I was wrong,
Please forgive me.

Even then, I'll suck in Saturday breath
for alive-again life I do not expect,
 am not sure I really want, now that I've figured out
the end of the story means death.
Worse than death --

Still, I listened to the stories all week, the ones

that remind me grief is not terminal.
The woman who made us laugh at Parkinson's, the mama who cried tears for 
her preschooler to catch -- a too-soon old man growing young again,
watered by his mama's tears.

The boy sitting on a bar stool drunk on his daddy's words,
This is my son.  Pass him the peanuts.

The story of the cool cloth

on the orphan's forehead, the poem finding hope in 
hanging by a thread.  
The airplane confessional, a woman committing
her mother's spirit to the sky --
maybe looking out the porthole window,
hoping to cross paths up there in the clouds.

The six-foot-six man standing on the church carpet like a blue wave,

shouting into his tall microphone so that we jumped from our pews --

Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!

And I didn't see Jesus' friends catch him -- raggedy and shredded --

off the wood.  Gauzing him up like a 
bloodied toe.
Burying him deep into virgin ground.
I didn't see it with my own eyes, only heard.
Maybe that's why -- when the scared story teller asked last night, 
"Christ Church will you catch me?"
I said -- Yes! As loud as I could so she could hear me.
But also, maybe, God,

to remind you in case you forgot -- 

what with your back turned and all --
that's what Good Fathers --
airplane strangers --

We catch the slip-sliding spirits falling out of the suffering.
And hand them over to
be held.

Since it's only Saturday, and we haven't yet 
really seen the Sunday (haven't beheld him in the clouds),
all we can do now
is hope you'll open your hands

and catch us from the

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