Thursday, April 13, 2017

A Holy Bipolar Week

It's such an obvious connection that it's hardly worth writing about, but the highs and lows of Holy Week provide plenty of resonances for the bipolar believer.

A week that starts with "Palm / Passion Sunday," a liturgy designed to take the gathered faithful (who, the church seems to suspect, are not quite faithful enough to show up to the rest of the week's activities in droves, and therefore might miss out on the suffering) from the peak of celebration to the valley of betrayal and death, cannot help but have a manic depressive tinge to it.

And so we swing wildly about.

But for me, this year, it isn't the mirroring of my own experience that catches my attention, nor, necessarily, this little "Lithium for Lent" project that I've pondered over the past few weeks. This year, it's the "hosannas" that draw me in.

"Hosanna," which the gathered disciples shout as Jesus enters Jerusalem, is not a synonym of "Hallelujah," and so the oft-repeated trope that we should not skip over the rest of the week, from the "hosannas" to the "hallelujahs," is, while not wrong, perhaps a bit over drawn.

"Hosanna" means "save us," or "God save us." And so it is not so much that the "hosannas" fade over this week, as the tone of them changes, and that, by the end of the week but before the beginning of the next, they have become quieter, more muttered, more like whispered prayer than shouted acclamation.

"Save us" -- this week, and this month, and this year, give us plenty to shout "save us" about.

I have kept meaning to write something, anything, about this or that horror, this or that atrocity, that has been projected on the global screen these past weeks. I can't keep up. Save us, God, from sarin gas and murderous dictators who don't hesitate to use it; from long-range missiles and trigger-happy demagogues who don't hesitate to use them; and from all of our refusals to learn the ways of peace. Save us, God, from the blood shed when profits are more important than people; from the murderous rage directed against those made vulnerable by their difference; from callousness and evil at the highest levels and antipathy and nihilism at the lowest. Save us, save us, save us, God, anybody, save us, for it surely seems that we have no idea what we are doing.

Or perhaps we do know. And if so, even more, save us.

"Save us." Shouted in the streets or muttered, desperately, under our breaths -- it is the same prayer, and yet different.

And as I write those words, I realize, again, the deep resonance, so obvious as to barely be worth writing about.

In bipolar, in life, in the world -- in seeming high or shattering low --

It is the same prayer, and yet different.

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