Measured by the scope of itself, Good Friday ends in silence and death. I’ve given up trying to lead worship on Good Friday. It’s too painful for me.
A few years ago, a small group of us gathered for worship on Good Friday. I was only there to worship. That is, nothing was expected from me. I could wander into the brokenness and grief of Good Friday without feeling responsible for anyone else’s experience. I could turn all of my attention inward.
I sat with my head in my hands. Although I was grateful to them for creating a safe space, the people around me faded to the periphery of my awareness. At one point, there was an activity for those who chose to participate. I think candles were involved. Notes were written, and placed in a basket. I stayed in my seat, wandering through the labyrinth of my own inward places.
I gave myself permission to feel some of the things that I keep locked away: grief, loneliness, and all those nameless shadows that haunt us. It felt good to know that I was safe enough to travel in this direction.
Then, the singing reached me. The lyrics were simple. The voices were woven into soaring harmonies. It was so beautiful, and so present. The music carried the people around me back into my awareness. These lovely people were singing. The singing reached me.
I don’t remember any of the words. The music wasn’t conceptual; it wasn’t meant to teach me anything. The music wasn’t social; I didn’t feel compelled to blend my voice with the voice of others. The music was spiritual. The sound was an expression of God’s presence.
In the context of my grief and loneliness, the music was transformative. It was an expression of love in the place where I felt least lovable. It was an expression of community, where I felt most alone. None of my shadows were banished, but they lost their dominion over me. It was like finding a sunlit window in the darkest cavern. It was a reminder that Universe is larger than my current surroundings.
Even on Good Friday, the music reached me.
Often, I choose not to sing in worship. I find it more rewarding to give my full attention to the music as it pierces the shadows within me. The shadows may remain, but they feel less formidable when there’s music pouring through them.