Magazines 2018 Mar - Apr Dwell here for a while in Holy Week

Dwell here for a while in Holy Week

25 March 2018 , 2018 Mar - Apr By Karen Stiller

“Dwell here for a while Karen.” That was a common instruction I heard during the last two years as I completed a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Non Fiction. The program is all about writing very well what is true. Sometimes it’s called literary journalism, if that helps explain it a bit more.

“Dwell here for a while Karen.” That was a common instruction I heard during the last two years as I completed a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Non Fiction. The program is all about writing very well what is true. Sometimes it’s called literary journalism, if that helps explain it a bit more.

The palm branches of Palm Sunday quickly turn into the stark reality of Holy Week. We are wise to dwell here for a while.

The advice to dwell here was from my mentor, an experienced author assigned to me and my work. I have been writing about my life as a minister’s wife and she would place that comment in a spot in my writing where she felt I might be skimming over something, or not going deep enough. She knew that there might be something both painful and beautiful to unearth, if I just spent a bit more time — if I dwelled there for a while.

I’m sure you know where I’m going with this. It is Holy Week. We should dwell here for a while. It is so tempting to rush ahead in our minds to Easter Morning. Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! There is nothing more wonderful to celebrate, we know this is true.

But first comes Holy Week  with its long pauses and wintery days, its dark nights of disappointment and its betrayal. Filthy feet washed. Disciples fleeing the scene. The hurrahs of Palm Sunday morphed into violent shouts. We change so quickly. We are such fickle followers. We are so brutal in our turning away.

We need to dwell here for a while.

Years ago, when my husband Brent was in seminary, the school hosted a Good Friday service. It was meant to be solemn, (couldn’t  you watch with me for even one hour?); but the team leading it just could not resist shouting out “HAPPY EASTER!” even before the last solemn song faded away.

Were they wrong to do that? Actually, yes. I think they made a mistake.

The Maundy Thursday service in our Anglican tradition is wrenching. It ends with a bang — literally, as clergy abandon their place in front of the church, and walk out silently, doors slamming behind them,  as if they were the disciples in their greatest failure. The holy table is draped in black. Afterward, no one wants to gab about their weekend plans, or they shouldn’t.

It’s okay to be sad all day long on Good Friday. It’s okay for Easter Saturday to stretch onward for slow hours, this in-between tomb time that is so full of the not yet. Holy Week is meant to be full of remembering, not rushing. Prayer, not parties. There is time enough to celebrate, all of eternity actually, if we believe what happens on Easter Sunday. So, let’s dwell here. Just for a while.

Karen Stiller is a senior editor of Faith Today.