Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again;
for forgiveness has risen from the grave.
—St John Chrysostom
It is always here, in the dark of Good Friday just before Pascha, that I find all the regret I have stored up over the years. It’s a pressing lie, heavy and persistent. It sounds right to me in the dark. It sounds reasonable and clear, repeating over and over,
“I should have…”
I’m always falling short. This is the reality of it.
And yet as I sit here struggling to put together some thoughts and make some weird sense of it all, I find I am at a loss and maybe that’s the right thing. I type and backspace and type again only to delete the whole mess later. Perhaps it’s right that there are no good words here in the dark. Perhaps there is only the loss, the sense of the deep dark pressing in until at last we let it go in lighting those candles at midnight on Pascha.
I’m willing to be there and do that, putting aside regret as St John Chrysostom might advise so that I can enter in once again to the darkened church, to the spreading of the candle light from one faithful to another, to the heat that builds into the joyous moment when we’ll finally say, “Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!”
That’s my favorite part of the night, I confess. It’s my favorite thing to watch my priest break into a near run as he shouts this phrase in English, in Russian, in Greek. We respond then with all of our breath. It’s been a long Lenten road. We’ve done what we can and then some. We’ve waited and we’ve fasted and we’ve prayed and we’ve attended and here we are then, out of the darkness and shouting for joy in the light.
It’s overwhelming on all sides, in the waiting, in the fasting, in the prayer, in attending and in the shouting and the light. Thanks be to God, we’re more than the sum of our parts here. Thanks be to God, He is risen. Indeed He is risen.