For most of the worlds Christians this is Holy Week, but not for the ancient Orthodox Church.
We recollect the suffering of Jesus and his conquest of death in the week leading up to May 5. Christendom is divided as much as she ever is.
And so I see my good friends reflecting, as they should, on the events leading up to Good Friday, I even have Western Good Friday as a day off, and my Lenten disciplines are just beginning.
Given their numbers, it is like being in the shadows watching as a multitude under a blistering sun approach the gates of a green and pleasant park.
I know that my day will come, but it is far away and my friends will go on without me. Sunday will be bright for them, but I will remain in the shadows.
This is not so different from my life as fifty looms. Many of those I love have gone ahead and entered into rest. My grandparents are all gone now. Their Lenten journey is over and the holiday has become. If there are ice cream sandwiches at the Great Feast, then my Papaw Earl is having one and if there are stories to be told then my Papaw Shelby is telling one. Granny should be allowed to clean up if she is to be perfectly happy and Nana will have a sun porch on her heavenly mansion.
They have died just as our baby, Edmund Saint John, or Uncle Roddy and Aunt Karen. Their suffering is over like Uncle Bob, Aunt P, Uncle Jim . . . and the list grows longer. Of all my family come to America hundreds of years ago most have ended their Holy Week, their Lenten discipline, and few of us remain in the East stil journeying to the West where the sun is setting.
I rejoice with my Western Christian friends, but from a distance. I rejoice with my family gone to glory, but in a muted way since their gain highlights my loss.
But this much, I can say for sure weeks from Holy Pascha when most of Christendom, most of those who have gone this way, are in Glory or about to enter Glory: I am coming in God’s good time. I am coming.