How Do You Get To Gethsemane?

How Do You Get To Gethsemane? April 6, 2020

No one said I couldn’t go for a hike.

There’s a lot that’s not allowed right now, for safety reasons. But we’re allowed to go for walks.

There are trails for hiking all around Steubenville, though many of them are officially closed and not maintained by the city. Some are marked with “Keep Out” signs but the one I went on wasn’t. This one led me downhill under budding trees, among violets, may apples, fleabane, and jack-in-the-pulpit, before abruptly ending in a noisy stream bed.

I walked in the stream for awhile, carrying my shoes.

“Vidi aquam egredientem de templo, a latere dextro,” I sang, practicing for Sunday. I saw water flowing from the temple, on the right side, and all to whom that water came have been saved.

Shale is the current bane of the Ohio Valley. It used to be coal, then steel, now shale. Shale can be fracked to make oil somehow. Shale is the reason contractors come here from Texas and Tennessee, claiming they’re going to “create jobs” and then doing the jobs themselves without creating anything but chaos and destruction. Shale will be the death of wildflowers, trees and clear water, if the frackers get their way. Still, shale by itself is pleasant to walk on. It makes a natural smooth stepping stone.

I came to a place where I had to climb over a miniature waterfall, muddying the knees of my good corduroy pants. Then I walked on a pebbly shore, and then I was out of the woods again.

I wonder if the Lord ever walked through a stream bed.

He must have walked all over the place.

The Gospel just says that after singing a hymn, He and the disciples went out to the Mount of Olives, but how do you get to the Mount of Olives? How do you get to Gethsemane? Was there a road the whole way, or did Christ and the disciples have to walk off the path and through a shallow stream? Did they admire the flowers and try to remember their names? Did they have to climb over things and find smooth stepping stones on their way? Did they think about the people who came to their part of the world from somewhere else to make money, and end up sowing chaos?

However they got there, there they were in Gethsemane, and the Lord went off to pray alone.

We are also in Gethsemane.

How did we get to Gethsemane?

We came in the usual way. We were living our day-to-day lives. A catastrophe occurred that was out of our hands. The powerful people who might have mitigated it largely didn’t, and now we are facing death. I don’t know what’s going to happen next. I am confident that it will get much worse before it gets better. We don’t congregate together because we mustn’t right now. It’s dangerous. We pray alone.

How do you pray in Gethsemane?

I think we should pray as the Lord did.

Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Take this cup away from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.
I don’t understand how this works, and Abba does. I couldn’t explain the mystery. Miracles are real. I’ve seen a few myself. Everything that can possibly be done, God can do. And then there is that mysterious place where evil happens anyway, and for that there is no adequate explanation I could give you, not in human words. So the first step is to pray for the miracle you want. Ask away. Ask for that exact thing. Abba, Father, don’t let me die. Abba, Father, don’t let anyone I care about die. Abba, Father, don’t let us suffer. Abba, Father, make things go back to normal. Abba, Father, make there never have been a plague at all. No harm in asking. Leave it in Abba’s hands, because only He knows what is possible. We don’t.
And then there’s the other half of the prayer. Yet not what I will, but what you will. 
What does the Father will?
Not that people suffer and die like this. This terrible crisis is all bound up in the mystery of evil, and God doesn’t will evil. But He wills that, when evil somehow happens anyway, He should be present in it with us and transform it into grace.
That even the worst thing that could possibly happen, will become the means by which He saves us and proves His love for us.
That we, through the mystery of the incarnation, will drawn up into the life of God through the God Who descended to die our death.
That we, by the grace of God, become the people we should have been all along. That we pour ourselves out for one another and become heroic.
That is the Father’s will.
I don’t mind praying for that.
I put my shoes back on and finished my walk– out of the woods, away from the stream and the wildflowers, into the miserable,  cramped and littered neighborhoods that make up Steubenville. I tied a bandanna on my face and went to do my necessary shopping in a grocery store that smelled like antiseptic. I came home and looked at the death toll:  shockingly high again. It is always shockingly high. Ten thousand of my own countrymen have been lost, seventy-five thousand worldwide, and it’s going to get worse. I had gone from Gethsemane to Golgotha.
Everyone does at one time or another.
Fitting enough that it happened this week.
Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Take this cup away from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.

Image via Pixabay

Mary Pezzulo is the author of Meditations on the Way of the Cross

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