The chapel at the entry to the church was darkened, and the stone floor covered with sand and rocks. People were invited to commit themselves to walking the path to the cross alongside Jesus over the next few days, by making their footprint in the sand.
A recording of this meditation played in the space:
The night is always our undoing.
All you knew to be certain becomes unknown.
All you knew to be right and true and good is tested against the shadows and whispers of loneliness and fear.
It comes up wanting.
How did it seem, just hours ago, in the company of friends and a little food and wine, that there was nothing the world could throw at you that you couldn’t overcome?
You know otherwise now.
The daylight reminders that life surrounds you, without thought, just simply existing, have gone.
The hum of a song, the overheard conversation, the sudden shock of sunlight caught through the corner of an eye – have drained from the air. It waits, empty, ready to be filled by a lurking tangle of powers and forces beyond our knowing.
How can the world sleep?
And in the middle of this night, all words of logic and good theology, articulated with certainty and clarity just yesterday, collapse and crumble, as you grasp for them, desperately, to make sense of what will come tomorrow.
But there is no sense to be made of this, at least none that holds up to the rigour of testing in the cold, dark garden of night.
You try to pray to the God you knew yesterday.
Every noise becomes sharper, has a meaning beyond itself. That footstep must belong to an intruder, or an army. A voice calling is that of an accuser, a coin falling will be the herald of betrayal. A branch snapping is an echo of a soul breaking.
Any way but this one, God.
The shadows reach out, tempting, and for a moment it seems easier to succumb, to walk into all they may hold – terror, of course, but certain terror, of your own making.
But that’s not the way of this night.
You wait as the world sleeps around you.
Loneliness is your only companion,
and fear is that which knows you best.