Behold, I stand at the door and knock

Paul Gauguin, 1889, Agony in the Garden

If you ever wanted a chance to meditate or pray in a church at two in the morning, try Maundy Thursday sometime.

Jesus’ disciples fell asleep on him, the night he was waiting to be arrested. So, every Holy Week at St. Benedict, like many churches do, we have a vigil or watch where folks “stay awake” and pray in the church, one after the other, for abut 20 hours  I’m always amazed by the people sign up for shifts at 1am, 2am, 3am, 4am since I’m a pretty miserable person if I’m not asleep during those hours.

In fact, I fell asleep last night at 10pm.

At about 11pm, Adam answered a call on my phone from one of our members, who was trying to join in the watch… but the church doors were locked. And no one seemed to be inside. “The spirit is willing, but the doors are locked.” He invited him to come on over to our house to get a key. (Thank you to my husband for being awake!)

Something like this tends to happen every year, I’ve noticed.

For all that we try to sit with Jesus — whether it’s through the night at church, or with people in our prison system, or giving witness to anyone who’s been shoved to the margins of society, or opening ourselves to his deep, total love for the world — we’re probably going to fail. The door will be locked. We’ll be a wreck at 2am. We’ll be too scared to sit with people the state has called “criminals.” We “won’t know what to say to him” (Mark 14:40).

Of course, it can be painful to be the person who can’t get in that door, too, who are stuck in a cold empty parking lot, wanting to get inside, who can’t overcome the obstacles in the way to God’s presence, who can’t be with the one they love. Three dear cousins of mine lost their grandmother this week, and two of them won’t be able to cross the country to get to her funeral. My heart goes out to them – it’s hard to be unable to go and watch, sit, and “stay awake” with your family when someone you love has died and is gone.

On that note, we enter Good Friday.

A blessed Holy Week to you.

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