Forget germs. After the past couple of weeks, I have come to believe that the flu is one of Satan’s most insidious forms of physical and spiritual attack. While my body started to recover with mega-doses of anti-viral, there have been crazy nightmares that have come with this particular illness that have left me disoriented, to say the least. Instead of doing any of the fun things planned with the kids this spring break, I have been stuck in the house alone, being preyed on by self-pity and loneliness. And housework. When did the house get so dirty? It’s amazing what you discover when you are locked away for a week. Everything was going so well but, now, just a few days away from Palm Sunday, I feel like I am rushing to Easter. Well-played, Satan, well- played.
Is the week before Palm Sunday called anything? I feel like it should be. We are deep into Lent now and building up to the climax of Jesus’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem. Everyone always marvels at how quickly things turn for Jesus from Palm Sunday to the Crucifixion on Good Friday. We often forget to look through the wider lens of the week before Palm Sunday, which gives us some of Jesus’s most challenging and blunt Gospels.
Jesus is getting more specific and people are getting more upset. The smooth way Jesus handles the adulterous woman at the beginning of the week gives way to mind-numbing word play with “Father” and “Abraham,” on Friday. People have been whipped up into a frenzy of confusion, disbelief and outrage. Forget stoning the adulterous woman, the crowd is ready to stone him. Add in preparation for the upcoming feast of Passover and the overwhelming sense that something was going to happen soon must have been palpable in the streets. “Time is up,” he seems to be saying, “what do you believe?”
Jesus leaves Jerusalem this week when things heat up. He almost had to get himself kicked out of Jerusalem so that he could have a brief, triumphant return to it. What I love about this part of the story is where Jesus goes to: back to the beginning of his ministry, to the spot where he was baptized by John. Right before the end, he circles back to the beginning. It must have been tempting to stay in Jordan and not go back to face the music in Jerusalem. I wonder if this brief break gave Jesus the space he needed to prepare himself mentally for the task he knew was ahead?
I can definitely relate to returning to the beginning. Coming back from this illness has served as a re-set button. Before regular life sweeps back in, I will have an opportunity to choose what to add back into my life. Maybe more fruit and fewer Cadbury Cream Egg cookies, even if I truly believe they are medicinal. I have to re-examine priorities. Maybe watching 6 straight hours of “Fixer Upper” is not the absolute best use of my time, even if I was too weak to find the remote and, in fairness, hey never did say what those countertops were made of. I can reexamine what is real and what is illusion. It is unlikely that the dogs were really in league against me and repeatedly stealing my comforter was probably not a concerted effort to prolong my illness. Still, they do like my husband best though, so they might have been taking advantage of the opportunity to get me out of the way – Wait, see? There’s that crazy Tamiflu talking, again.
And so I am left with a cleaner slate to move into Holy Week. Having had my own period of forced withdrawal has given me some perspective and made me value my family, our health and our time together. While I know I have let them down this week, they have shown me tremendous love. I have gained new enthusiasm for my last few days of Lent. I will be ready to cross the river back to real life next week. Holy week? Let’s do this!