In my prayer this week, I have been struck by a disturbing image. Maybe it is a construct of the images from Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. I’m not sure. It is the image of a man, sitting on the curb or pavement watching the spectacle of the crucifixion. But not really watching. Sitting elbow-on-knees, with head in hands. People moving, shouting, pushing, laughing. But this person fixed, focused, silent.
I feel a very deep affinity with this person. He might even be me. For many priests, the Easter mysteries are a blur. Especially of you are a parish priest alone in a parish. There are so many things to keep track of, to keep tabs of if the Easter Triduum is to be an enriching experience. In my own parish, we have counted over 130 different tasks, talents and ministries.
And yet, the affinity that I feel is the dissociation, the alone-ness of the person on the curb. Everyone moves, does, experiences. But my experience is not that. It is of a deep bewilderment at the happenings.
Yet, the image of the person on the curb is not isolated or aloof from the happenings. He is intimately involved, but not in a busy way. He is a figure of despair, of bewilderment. He sees the goings on and is not isolated, but touched to the depths of his own despair. He is the counterpart to Mary of Magdala’s despair on reaching the empty tomb. He hasn’t heard the Lord call his name or been instructed to ‘go with the brothers to Galilee’.
My own bewilderment touches a very deep awareness that I have and explore of the one-left-out. So much of my ministry is the realization of how may of us go on on the outside and live with the curb-sitter’s despair on the inside.
As an image in prayer, as I explore it, I realize that so much of myself is the necessary business, the business of doing. How little time I have to explore the alone-ness, the loneliness and both the necessary and unnecessary despair of the life I lead.
I am priviledged – as a priest, I have the time and the resources or background to explore. I have the openness and the training. I find it hard. So it must be so much harder if you don’t have the time or the luxury.
I choose to be, to identify with the Curb-sitter. And i await my invitation to journey with the brothers to Galilee.