He is risen! He is risen indeed!
Happy Easter to all my disciples. Yes, I survived Holy Week. I'm exhausted. The Easter Vigil Mass lasted three-and-a-half hours last night. I got to church at 8:30 p.m. and got home at around midnight. It was beautiful and emotionally draining. (Easter liturgies really affect me deeply. Last night, there was a man who was confirmed, and his teenage daughter was his sponsor. A South Korean exchange student was baptized.)
And then I was up at 5:30 a.m. for the Easter Sunrise service at my wife's church. No rest for the wicked or the church organist.
Today's episode of Classic Saint Marty first aired about a year ago, on Holy Saturday . . .
March 26, 2016: Julian of Norwich, Giant Water Bug, Holy Saturday
Julian of Norwich, the great English anchorite and theologian, cited,
in the manner of the prophets, these words from God: "See, I am God:
see, I am in all things: see, I never lift my hands off my works, nor
ever shall, without end. . . . How should anything be amiss?" But now
not even the simplest and best of us sees things the way Julian did. It
seems to us that plenty is amiss. So much is amiss that I must
consider the second fork in the road, that creation itself is
blamelessly, benevolently askew by its very free nature, and that it is
only human feeling that is freakishly amiss. The frog that the giant
water bug sucked had, presumably, a rush of pure feeling for about a
second, before its brain turned to broth. I, however, have been sapped
by various strong feelings about the incident almost daily for several
Dillard is writing about a scene she witnessed that becomes a central image in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.
Near the beginning of the book, Dillard, staring at a frog in the
shallows of Tinker Creek, sees a little frog literally dissolve into a
balloon of skin. The life of the frog drains before her eyes, skull and
muscles turning into broth. The culprit of this apocalypse? The Giant
water bug (that's its real name). This insect attaches itself to
creatures like frogs, injects enzymes and poisons into its victim, and,
basically, liquefies it.
These kinds of things happen in nature all the time. There is no bad or
good. There is simply survival and oblivion. Humans are the ones that
struggle with emotions over episodes like this (Dillard keeps returning
to it through her entire book). Of course, humans are a little more
complex than insects and amphibians. Built into our very beings are
conscience and empathy. That's why Dillard feels bad for the little
frog deflating before her. She assigns human feelings to an event that
has been occurring, probably, for hundreds (if not thousands) of years.
So, where is God in all this? I'm not sure about the answer to that
question. Like Julian of Norwich, I believe that God is in all things.
Nothing is amiss when God is in control. The frog becomes soup for the
water bug because that's God's plan for it. However, it becomes more
difficult to see God's plan in things like the Brussels terrorist
attacks of this past week or my sister's death from lymphoma of the
brain last August. Those kinds of things seem, to us little blobs of
protein and plasma, without meaning or direction. They seem to indicate
a universe without divine guidance or control.
As I've said before in this blog, the world is a broken place. God
didn't break it. We did. God does not make bombs that explode in
subways or plant mutating cancer cells in a person's head. Those things
are the result of the human experiment gone awry. It's what we do with
events like this, how we respond to them, that fills the God-shaped
hole left behind.
It's unfortunate that, for a lot of people, it takes tragedy to tear the
curtain enough for God to peek through. On this Holy Saturday, I'm
going to keep my eyes open, look for God in all things, like Julian of
Norwich. In the yellow grass of my lawn. In the wind on my face. My
wife's laugh. Pizza sauce on my son's face. My daughter's eye rolls.
It's all blessing.
The darkness is ending, folks. Easter is on the way.
Saint Marty just hopes he doesn't end up on the wrong end of a Giant water bug.
And a poem for Easter:
by: Martin Achatz
My mother made it on
In her bowl as green as
She'd mix water, salt,
Shortening and yeast,
With her hands, over and
Until dough took shape,
As my winter skin.
Then she kneaded,
Pushed and pounded,
picked it up,
Slammed it down on the
Made the room shake
Sounds like sledges and
sounds. After she was done,
My mother left the bowl
on the counter,
Draped with a
towel. She waited
For the dough to leaven,
To work like prayer,
make the dough
Rise higher and higher,
Like a pregnant
womb. My mother
It into submission,
Its will, began the
As night fell, the dough
rose and rose.
Some time after I went
My mother sliced loaves,
On Easter morning, I
To the aroma of
Resurrection, sweet and
As the wren.