Holy Week turned out to be one of the best in recent memory. I was busy at the hospital and busy in my parish, but I established some very strict boundaries around my time in both places that week, and this paid off in the end. I was able, for the most part, to be at those services that were most important to me while still provided good pastoral care at the hospital. I wasn’t exhausted when the week was over. Best of all, I wound up enjoying my very public role, especially on Maundy Thursday and at the Easter Vigil. As they ultimately always do, the liturgies captivated me, transported me, fed me, healed me…

It turns out that there are few things in church life quite as amazing as carrying the paschal candle in the dark, chanting “the light of Christ” and hearing the chanting in reply… that was definitely one of the highlights of the week. For an assignment in my last CPE unit I wrote a “folktale” about my ministry as a chaplain, and in that folktale I was a light-bearer. How fitting, then, to carry the paschal candle this year, and sing into the darkness with all the energy I could gather, declaring the resurrection of hope, of light, of the Christ.

There was only one moment during the week’s liturgies when I had a bit of trouble managing my emotions. On Good Friday my parish does a 3 hour service with preaching, readings, communion from the elements reserved on Thursday, and the singing of the Faure Requiem. It was at a point in the Requiem, somewhere in the midst of the beautiful Sanctus movement, that I suddenly started thinking about one of my patients, a man in his 30s with brain cancer. An image of the radiation burns he had showed me the previous day flashed through my mind. The contrast of the horror of that treatment, which will prolong but not save his life, with the beauty of the Sanctus, just overwhelmed me. I began to tear up but decided not to try to fight it all that hard. After all, it was Good Friday, and provided I didn’t turn into a sobbing mess, emotion was probably not all that out of place.


~ by Sophia on April 20, 2010.

One Response to “Eastertide”

  1. For an assignment in my last CPE unit I wrote a “folktale” about my ministry as a chaplain . . .

    This must be part of the CPE Director’s Owner’s Manual. I remember we had to do something similar for our last assignment as well.

    Congratulations on a successful term.

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