Today is Maundy Thursday. It is the day we remember Jesus Christ washing His disciple’s feet and sharing His last supper with them; the day that Jesus declared there was a new commandment: that we love one another as He loved us; the day that Jesus asked His friends to stay awake to keep watch; the day they…fell asleep.
I often think about this. That they fell asleep. I wonder if I would have done the same. And I guess the truth is that I very likely would have. I once even challenged myself to hold vigil from Maundy Thursday through to Good Friday. I didn’t make it. The truth is that my head nods off all the time when it shouldn’t. I watch the news about people getting killed in war-torn countries, drive by people living in tents along the Don Valley, walk through hospitals full of people with severe health needs and fail to even blink.
It’s as though the brokenness of the world lulls me to sleep. I doze into a dangerous place- one where I forget the work begun on Maundy Thursday and accomplished on Easter. I become like Puddleglum and Jill in CS Lewis’ The Silver Chair. The Witch throws some green powder on the fire that induces a sweet smell and begins to thrum on a mandolin-like instrument. She tries to make them believe that Narnia, a beautiful land where Aslan the Lion reigns, has never existed.
“Yes, It is all a dream,” said the Witch.
“Yes, all a dream,” said Jill.
“There never was such a world,” said the Witch.
Thrum, thrum, thrum goes the mandolin.
Thrum, thrum, thrum.
There is no love.
There is no hope.
I need to no longer numb myself to the world’s needs, and do what Jesus asked me to. I need to be alert in order to love people. I have to ask them what they need and not assume I always know what’s best. Loving arouses me from my sleep- it enlivens me to my surroundings. As Puddleglum says to the Witch: “You may have blotted it out and turned it dark like this, for all I know. Nothing more likely. But I know I was there once. I’ve seen the sky full of stars. I’ve seen the sun coming up out of the sea of a morning and sinking behind the mountains at night. And I’ve seen him [Aslan] up in the midday sky when I couldn’t look at him for brightness.” There IS hope.
With my eyes wide open I can withstand the aroma of the green powder and resist the thrum of the mandolin. I can notice all that has gone terribly wrong and not allow it to plunge me into despair. I can choose to love and stoop to wash another’s feet.
I can stay awake.