I’m away from home today and I’m a bit sad about that. I’ve been filled up with nourishing and expanding conversations at the Talking Bodies conference in Chester this week and there will be some accounting of these in the days to come. However, I want to talk about today first because it is really important to me, it has become important to me. It’s been a day that held early rituals of colouring our boiled eggs for breakfast and hot buttered cross buns as children, a day in the school holidays for spending kissing beside the cathedral, a day to serve pizza because the tips are good on a bank holiday and currently its a day that I fight for space for (it’s not a Bank Holiday in Northern Ireland) and I’m tentatively thinking and trying to introduce ritual for the sake of the small person too.
It’s called Good Friday in the Christian calendar, the economy and media in the West. It’s a day that remembers a story at it’s best and a day that fills shopping centres and plastic carrier bags at its worst.
It’s a day that is important to me.
- This is the Expected and Holy Day,
- the One among the Sabbaths,
- the Sovereign and Lady of days
- -Orthodox Liturgy
It’s a day about corporeality and mortality.
It’s a day for the sacred, it’s a day that remembers bodies.
In the Christian tradition we remember a body, a body that people spoke and wrote about as divine.
Regardless of whether faith is present in your world or not, regardless of what tradition that faith is present or absent in, this day and this day’s story; this blood soaked, wailing, tortured and humiliating day holds a story that matters. It matters when we talk about bodies, it matters when we talk about power and it matters when we talk about revolution.
This body among other bodies in the story, was tortured, humiliated, potentially sexually assaulted, bled, wept and sweated. Agonised. Isolated. Alone. Asked questions. Gave up. Looked the mother that had nourished it in utero and had suckled it at her breast in the eye and dismissed her. And they and some of us still say and hope that this body was G-d.
In the pagan tradition this day tells stories of dying and burning gods and goddesses. It marked preparations for Spring, growth, life and celebrated blood as a life source flowing in and through the womb, the veins and muscles of us and the earth that nourishes us. It’s a day for the sacred. For wonder and awe, to think upon our smallness and the way greatness nourishes us in our size.
We’ve created facades around this day. We’ve built up meaning and symbolism. A new friend Karina describes the way that we ‘clean up stories’. We’ve taken a lot of the blood out. We’ve replaced it with holy, worthy, purposed blood, or blood we don’t want anything to do with as we dismiss the story and the institution it sits within. We’ve made it ‘hippy’ or tacky. We’ve made it fluffy and sugary sweet. When I start taking the facade down, I shiver, I’m harrowed.
These stories changed the world.
There are bodies bleeding, sweating, bruising, humiliated and giving up all around us.
We talk about stories of bodies on this day and over Easter as being sacred and divine and symbols.
We stop thinking about the dying bodies around us. We do not think of these bodies as symbols, there is no facade; they are not holy or divine enough. There are too many of them.
One body is divine and has a facade – many bodies have no facade and no divinity.
I don’t think so.
Imago dei – Flesh is G-d.
This day is important to me because I think and feel like this and the world needs to pause in our dust and thirst and consider ourselves and our bodies as precious.