'Father forgive them, for they know not what they do'
I wake up to the radio dj exhorting the promise of a four day weekend - opportunities for shopping and eating, long lie-ins and late nights. Two million people have already left the country for sunshine, sea and forgetfulness. The radio adverts tell of a local pub offering a Spring 'All you can eat' BBQ later in the day.
''Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise'
Opening the front door of my house I am welcomed by the promising new birth colours of the cherry blossom against the perfectly blue sky. The gardens and fields on the way to church scream out in vivid yellows and acid greens. Runners in dayglow vests patrol the pavements and pathways at a steady pace. A mum stands at a bus stop with a young family in rainbow colours, chattering like baby parrots. The church itself is chilled and shrouded still in the dark purples against the concrete grey. Sitting on the sanctuary steps the expanse of glass doors provide a panorama of life - yet to be fulfilled.
'Woman, behold your son: behold your mother '
The day is spattered with holy moments. Earlier this morning we shared in the Morning Prayer of the Church. Then we go to join with the Anglican and Methodist churches in a Walk of Witness that spans the housing estate we serve. Fifty or so witnesses pray for the ten thousand souls that live here. Sometimes our 'family' doesn't even know we exist.
' My God, My God, why have you forsaken me'
My husband sends a text - '
What's happening today?'.
I reply 'It's Good Friday'.
'See you later then xxx'.
I am reminded of all the good people that I love that don't need to be here, doing this, every year.
Sometimes I wish I was the same. Maybe I am offering only a consolation but this day - knowing how often I am guilty of forsaking God - this day I have to stand and watch.
'I thirst '
A conversation with my 5 year old philosopher granddaughter about why we celebrate Good Friday. 'So we don't forget' I tell her. 'But Jesus dies!' she says indignantly 'who's going to forget that? And,' she adds ' I bet his mum feels terrible having to think about it every year!'
I bet she does too. And I bet that there are many people on this bright pink and blue spring day who are having to remember terrible things all by themselves, every year. Where can you put that grief except into the darkness of today?
'It is finished'
At the end of each walk, service or ritual- no matter how solemn - no matter how dark - comes the return to everyday life. Normality is so often the best response to fearfulness.The return to the mundane denies the overshadowing gloom. But, within each one of us a darkened lamp sits waiting for the bridegroom to take his journey. The grace is in walking the path with only the promise of Light.
' Father, into your hands I commit my spirit '
Our final service is Tenebrae - candlelit in hope. The sky will still be a bright blue this year. The drive to the church will be accompanied by gardeners hard at work supervised by their nodding cherry trees and shopper's cars piled high with bargains. Within the worldview, Good Friday feels like a secret witnessed now behind closed doors. Maybe why we have to remember every year? In case one year no-one worries about a mother grieving her son.
This year, not even the streaks of sunset will accompany the blowing out of the candles leaving only last year's Paschal candle standing watch at the closed tomb.
A waste...to have so many candles in broad daylight. But where our prayers come from there is no light. Only a crack in the grey-blackness - a promise made in heaven. A promise witnessed by our own carrying of the darkness.