By Denise Trull
I had the strangest but most beautiful feeling of being rolled out to sea one dusky, Eastertide evening. The Cantor's voice was singing Alleluia in wave after wave of Gregorian gentleness, rising and falling like tides. I felt them lap up against my soul and slowly, quietly lift it off the mundane worries of this world and slip it out to a wide open peace. I sailed with Christ. The Risen Christ. I found myself rolling gently up and down in wave after wave of His mercy. I let it take me far out to the very edge where I suddenly remembered, as if returning to my childhood, noble Reepicheep’s eager sailing into the land of newly Risen Light. The whole Mass rose and fell like waves rocking the barque of the Church in which I knelt. Love permeated everything. I tasted the air of Heaven.
I was sailing, but I was not alone. This was the tranquil sea of Easter’s first forty days. Those forty days when twelve bemused apostles roamed the world with a glorified Jesus. What did He look like? Was He shining? Did they stare at the healed, but evident, holes in his hands as He did simple tasks like cook their fish, start a fire, tie a rope to a dock? Did they wonder and weep quietly into their hands for their part in the inflicting of those wounds? Did He take them out on the lake, just them? Did they simply sail for the sheer joy of it -- not fishing, not journeying, not working in any way. Just sailing and rolling on His mercy and basking in His gaze. That gaze they thought would never be again, so lost was it in the darkness of those three frightening days. Did they absently trail their hands in the water as they leaned over the side of the boat and feel the wood on their cheek? Did they sit close to Him and just BE in the silence of friendship? Just being happy. Just being at peace. Accepting the flow of His forgiveness in waves as lovely as the sea. Knowing what it was to be loved by a glorified, incarnate God.
This was the patient, slow time of healing, these forty days -- healing of wounds. John's trauma at seeing Him crucified, nailed, bleeding above him. Did John still have nightmares about that day? Did Jesus place his hand upon his head and assure him it was all over now and He was well. Did regret tighten and fester within Peter at odd times for his denial? Did he perhaps look over at Jesus many times with tears in his eyes and wonder, wonder about being forgiven? To deny the Divine, and He as Friend, could not be so quick in the forgetting. Peter would need to do so over and over. Accept His Lord's forgiveness and believe it anew, again and again. Like us all. Did Jesus patiently reassure him one more time that His love was still his? No worries now. Did Thomas grasp His wounded hand at odd times and perhaps kiss it in gratitude for this kind friend who understood his need for physical touch and sight? Did they all suddenly draw close, all at the same time, to convince Him earnestly how sorry they were for running away and leaving Him alone in that courtyard to face His fate alone? Did sorrow overwhelm them with its heavy, accusing burden, all eyes turned to His? Did He simply whisper “Hush now,” and insist gently that they just listen to the waves lapping up against the boat -- that familiar, comforting sound for fishermen. And did they listen until their souls were quiet and content to simply be with Him, saying nothing?
These are the forty days of just being with Jesus. Of healing. Of rolling up and down gently on the waves of His mercy for all that has passed and for all that is to come.
I float with the apostles on that beautiful Sea of Galilee with the risen Lord. All my mistakes, my faults, my traumas, my everything find healing in simply sitting with Him in the small barque of this Church rolling upon the waves of His mercy -- in gentle cantor's antiphons, in rise and fall of priest's gentle voice, this my Body, this my Blood. Take and Eat. Be healed. Be at peace. Roll gently on my mercy and know that I am God. I am here. Listen to the waves of my mercy lapping up against your soul and be at peace.
These are also the forty days when Jesus is saying His long farewells to this particular world He has roamed with His friends in His humanity. Three, mercy-driven years -- moving with the urgency that was the will of His Father. Now the deed was done. All was accomplished. It was time to rest and to be happy with those who had stayed with Him until the end. He too knew the peace of His Father’s will made manifest in joy.
I picture Jesus picking a date off of a tree and slowly relishing the taste. Would He miss that taste? I see Him also trailing his hand in the water as Simon pulls out for a catch -- knowing and delighting in the feel of water on His skin. The wind on the back of his neck as it flows through His tossed hair. A rough rope. The feel of a leather sandal strap. Fire’s fierce joy. The look of Peter's face as he tends that fire, absently laughing at a passing joke. Jokes. Singing. Singing with lungs full of air. Dancing with abandon to the steps and song created and composed by His people Israel, this people "peculiarly His own," to release joy and praise to His Father. Praying softly with the peculiar speech of man, his human language -- Aramaic words. Praying alone once more in the sun baked hills with that silent smell of dust all about. Praying in boats, with His apostles who asked Him to pray to the Heavenly Father with them -- and He did. The feel of fish just out of a lake. The press of crowds -- earthy scented in their labors. Remembering the aromatic nard of sorrow flowing profligately as scented love all over His feet. The feel of wiping away a tear on a penitent cheek. Flowers in a field. Smiling at the inspiration they had given to Him when first he laid human eyes upon them and delighted just as we do -- in these lilies that do not toil, immortalized in a sermon when He sat on a mountain and taught.
All these sights, smells, tastes, feelings. Jesus experiencing a series of 'lasts.' Saying goodbye to the earth slowly and with attention -- for "attention is love." This very small piece of the earth where He pitched His tent and lived for 33 years. These are the forty days of remembrance.
This is our way of knowing how poignant it might have been for Jesus to say a human good bye to all that He had come to know and see not only as perfect God, Creator -- but as perfect human like us in all things but sin.
He loved our words, He loved our roads, sitting in the shade of our roofs, He ate our food and ate our bread. Relished our dates and the feel of water. Truly and in every way His delight had been to be with the children of men. Can the mind or heart ever fathom what that delight might mean? That we and our ways are delighted in by God.
Let us sail quietly with Jesus in these forty, gentle days of healing, of trust, of joy, of drawing close to His glorified humanity, wounded as it will always be now, though borne with a joy beyond all telling. Let us sail out on the rolling sea of His mercy and just BE with Him. He has so much to say to us before He goes forever to the Father. Alleluia.