If what we read about the Germanwings pilot is true–that he was distraught after having vision issues that would destroy his lifelong dream of flying–then Christians on Holy Week should get it.
We Know, Yet We Don’t
We felt the same exhilaration when our dream came true: when Jesus entered the city on a donkey, hearing the glad hosannas ringing out, and all was going to be alright.
We felt the same overwhelming weight when our dream was crushed: when a militant Messiah–who would order the world to perfection–was nowhere to be found, only this lowly Prince of Peace, alive only a few more days.
We felt the same sense of betrayal: when Judas betrayed Jesus to force him to show his hand, to rule, to annihilate the Romans–only to see a horrified Judas be the instigator of Jesus’ death and destruction.
We felt that same bloodlust of taking out difficulties on the innocent: Whether we are in a crowd calling for death of one God-man or alone in the cockpit leading 150 passengers to their death.
But we don’t know, too.
We don’t know what it felt like in the final moments: we don’t know how it felt on the cross or at the moment of impact.
We don’t know what it felt like in the early moments: we don’t know how the dream began to die and the despair took root.
We don’t know when the hinge moments were: when life could have been different, gone a different way.
We don’t know when we denied Christ’s neighbor through apathy or compartmentalized living.
Help us, O God.
Help us to be compassionate to that which we don’t know: unanswered motivations easily lead to pointing fingers in blame, but we don’t know what that pain looked like.
Help us to be a friend and companion to all those in our communities whose dreams are in danger and whose hopes are dashed, so that they know there’s a different way.
Help us to know and be known as people of caring ears, open doors, and hot beverages best shared together.
Help us to walk these lonesome valleys. We don’t know the pain, but we know we share it together.
Holy Week for Unholy Pain
Every year, we re-live the drama of the Christian story from Palm Sunday to Good Friday until the early morning hours of Easter sunrise. They are hard stories, but they are a trauma we expect. But when traumatic events like the Germanwings incident happen, our traumas get replayed. If we are sensitive to violence, accidents, and other triggers, we play those out again when we read about the helpless innocents in an airplane. Trauma triggers abound.
Maybe in the Christian life, we re-tell that drama not to give trauma the final word or hold us back, but to be a cathartic agent to draw us closer together and help us deal with our own valleys. It’s a structured, liturgical way to channel grief and loss to get to the other side.
Maybe we need to tell these stories to give a narrative and a release valve to our own traumas.
Maybe we tell the horrific story of Jesus’ last week to deal with our trauma in a regular, cyclical way, so that our traumas don’t spiral year after year into madness, destruction, and death.
May we find a better way to tell our stories, to release the tension, to walk with one another through the valley.
May we reach out with compassion to all whose dreams are on the line in our communities.
May we listen to 99 inconsequential conversations so that we are there for the one that really matters.