Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday

As a child, brought up in the Christian faith, I could not understand what was supposed to be good about this day. Either in its original time or in the day that was presented to us kids. For one, oddly like Remembrance Day, it seemed to be gloomy - the weather cooperating with the sombre nature of the day by providing low grey clouds and few glimpses of the sun and the adults wanting us to be just a little bit aware of what comes before the bunny treats. I don't know - perhaps if we'd been Anglicans or Catholics we would have had at least some glorious music to encourage contemplation. Or the Rabelaisian feting that should follow Lent. But it was unknown.

I remember a picture of Jesus on the cross in my grade four class in Merivale Gardens - it was VERY realistic and frightening. Can't imagine what the administration was thinking - possibly nothing. I being an imaginative child would imagine in dark detail how each of the five wounds was inflicted and what it must have been like to be pierced (!) through the hands. I remember the way the veins and the tendons were exposed - so vulnerable and his eyes - so forgiving. And the strangeness of the thorny crown being both mocking but oddly fetching too.

Later on Good Fridays when I was a hippie I might sing the Bonnie Rait song "Too Long at the Fair" - 'Jesus cried, he wept and died and then he went up to heaven. (something something) I'll never make it home by seven' a very poignant mixing of the sacred and the profane if you ask me.

When I first became a Buddhist - twenty years ago - I distanced myself from everything about organized Christianity. Fairly quickly I realized the deceptiveness of thinking so dualistically and struggled less with ideology and more with heart. Now I believe there was an enlightened teacher named Jesus. I believe that he was made a scape-goat of by a frightened bunch of parachuted-in bureaucrats. I believe his teachings were profound and that people would do very well to attend to them but not blindly. To look at them with their own wisdom and with the treasure chest of their own experiences. To witness to their own lives. I rejoice for members of all faiths that examine their own hearts and practice loving kindness pervasively to all sentient beings.

I suppose in that way of touching in on these thoughts it is a good Friday.

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