We have turned the corner toward the last Sunday of the great 50 days Christians celebrate as Eastertide. And so I need to poast a few thoughts about the season that is passing before we move into the next – grateful, in a way, for how liturgical seasons do provide some shape to these often anomalous weeks of stay-at-home orders.
My mother died the Sunday before Lent began: my last round trip airplane trip began on Ash Wednesday, when I traveled to go and spend a few days with my sisters and plan her service and mourn together. The idea of a coming pandemic was in the air but no action had been taken yet. By the time we came to the date we’d set aside for her service, we had to have it on zoom, and we were all locked down.
So the first round (of many) of grieving has been woven into Lent and Passiontide and the grieving for what cannot be in this time – especially for me the loss of the ability to gather physically, eat, drink and sing together, celebrate and mourn. But a season of grieving also brings into focus the gift and depth of my mother’s presence in my life, with memories both sweet and troubling surfacing in grieving-times.
All through Lent I was aware of the depth of relationship that is lost when a parent dies: the loss of that person who has known me since before I was born and though she may not have known all about me as I claimed my own adulthood, in some ways she knew me better than I knew myself . And I also carried memories of her that she could not access. Shading into Eastertide I’ve been aware of a lingering wistfulness in this grieving time:the loss of that one person in my life whose response, any time I showed up, would be one of welcome and unconditioned delight – sometimes filtered through other moods and issues, but always there – that simple delight that I am. That is certainly my experience when my own adult children call or turn up. But now, generatioally, it stops with me. This has been the mourning-woven theme in Eastertide. (I know this isn’t everyrone’s experience of a mother’s love, but it has been mine, and I am grateful).
And I suppose it is that delight that made its way into my meditation on an event that is invited for our contemplation during the fourth week of the Spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius: the contemplation of the Risen Christ coming to visit his mother. A poem I wrote some years ago came out of this meditation, and has been the “poem of the season” on my website for this Eastertide.. I have been glad to return to the poem, and the meditation: “Another Annunciation” contemplates the depth of human love between parent and grown child, surrounded by the mysterious, really unnameable, consolation that the Easter season brings. I have been trying, not always successfully, to hold onto that mystery and that consolation, as this season winds down toward the Ascension and Pentecost, opening up to whatever will come next.