Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Good Friday

In a country with such pronounced and longstanding religious credentials—despite the rock-solid separation of church and state—Good Friday is scarcely a blip on the radar screen of America.

Gone are the days, if ever they existed here, when everything was shut, and Good Friday was the
ne plus ultra of public holidays, as it used to be at home in Australia.

After the austere, stupendously dignified and moving liturgy at Christ Church, New Haven, commencing at noon last Friday—at the climax of which the choir sang the haunting
Improperia (Reproaches) in the beautiful setting by Tomás Luis de Victoria—I stopped off at Gourmet Heaven, the convenience store, to pick up a bottle of milk.

Looking at my watch I realized that the ninth hour was fast approaching, and therefore felt somewhat shamefaced to be caught entering a shop. No doubt I am the last person left in New England who still feels such strong qualms, no doubt “inculturated,” as we say here in the United States.

Quaint sentiments, certainly, but when I approached the cash register—ruminating upon the strange supernatural phenomena that are listed in the synoptics (the curtain of the Temple torn in two from top to bottom [all three agree on this, but for Mark it is the only one such observation {15:38}]; the sudden descent into darkness [Lk 23:44–45, a total eclipse of the sun?]; the shaking of the earth, the splitting of rocks, and the evacuation of numerous resuscitated corpses from their tombs, all of which electrify Matthew’s account [27:51–53])—thankfully I achieved re-entry without losing too many heat-proof tiles.

Because, spelled out on the customer side of the cash register screen, scrolling horizontally in sour green lights, was the following playfully animated message: “
WELCOME TO G. HEAVEN—Have a good day!!!”

It is the mark of the truly paranoid that they perceive messages flowing inwards from the surrounding world and conclude that these are specifically meant for them personally, but in this case the total irony was almost too much for me.

I hurried home, made a cup of tea, and finished reading all about Edna Walling’s landscape gardens.

1 comment:

  1. I am similarly given to moments of fantastic illumination in the most unlikely, and mundane, of places..

    xxo HH