For some reason, the three days after Palm Sunday aren’t celebrated or called anything. Today is one of those plain, Easter week days. To the best of my knowledge, there are no special activities that we undertake on Wednesday, which I pointed out in today’s post from March 2016. Perhaps we can call it “Waiting Wednesday,” as that’s what we seem to be doing on this “tween day.” Tomorrow is when the real action begins, at least as celebrated in various liturgies. And so we wait, as these final days wind down, for the inevitable conclusion to these 40 days. It is with advancing that quality of waiting that I invite you to read today’s post.
The Next Forty Days, Day 37–Nearing the End
There’s a certain satisfaction when one is nearing the end of an experience or process. Somewhere between now and Sunday, I will wind down writing the posts for this year’s Lenten season blog. After beginning with “Forty Days” last year and continuing with “The Next Forty Days,” I have no idea if next year I will work on “Yet Another Forty Days.” The good news is that I have more than a year in which to contemplate what I will do–Easter is not until April 16 of 2017.
Many of us have had experiences in which we were engaged in a long process that we could finally see coming to an end. Working on my doctorate was like that. It was on again, off again for over nine years before I finally saw the light at the end of a very long tunnel and completion was close at hand. It was an epic struggle that at one point I pondered quitting. But a number of factors motivated me to push past the exhaustion of working full time, raising children, and living life while attempting to write my dissertation. Through sheer determination and perseverance I managed to finish, and as I got closer and closer to the end, I gave a mighty heave to finish it. There comes this surreal moment when you realize that you have turned the corner and the thing you’ve been laboring over for hours, days, months, years is actually going to happen. It is a sweet feeling.
Of course, the inevitable completion of this blog series is not nearly as epic as completing my doctoral dissertation, but it does come with some measure of satisfaction and an equal measure of relief. The pressure of writing a post virtually every day, hoping for some wisdom, some theme to land on, some measure of insight to share has been exhausting. Doing so while also battling chronic sleeplessness, job stress, and other life issues increases the pressure. Still, I wouldn’t trade anything for it. It is beautiful to contemplate so many things during these 40 days. It has been an important time of reflection for me on the many subjects I’ve shared in these posts as well as a good disciplinary practice to challenge myself to write something coherent every day. While I will miss writing regularly after Sunday, it will be a relief to turn my time and attention to something else.
Over the past week I’ve spent more time contemplating how Jesus knew he was actually nearing the end of his days on earth. In religious tradition, we celebrate Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter, but who knows what Jesus was thinking or doing that last week, in those last hours before his arrest. There is no “Maundy Monday” or “Holy Tuesday” or “Special Wednesday” celebrations during this last week of Lent. Those days aren’t of any particular spiritual significance. On these days, like any others, Jesus probably walked around the city greeting and healing people, teaching and preaching while he still could. Was he in countdown mode? Did he know?
There are times in our lives when we know we’re reaching an end–we are finishing projects, preparing for retirement, completing a degree program, putting the finishing touches on a painting, a novel, a song. There are other endings we do not know are coming, did not anticipate, and are left reeling in their wakes. Such is the stuff of life, and so we live and love and do our best as we count down our own span on this earth. So it has ever been, and so it shall be. World without end, amen.