"What if there are really gleaming, castellated cities hung upside down over the desert sand?
What limpid lakes and cool date palms have our caravans always passed untried?
Until, one by one, by the blindest of leaps, we light on the road to these places, we must stumble in darkness and hunger."
It was our third try. And I was not leaving the bathroom until she peed in the stupid cup.
There I was, camped out in the doctor's office restroom. We'd been there all morning. It was Easter week.
The holy part doesn't ring so true when you're squatting in front of a public toilet for ten minutes at a time, holding a plastic cup up to your wilting child, trying to coax her bodily functions to cooperate so that the doctors will (please God) be able to figure out why she is so sick.
She just looked at me. Her face and arms and legs aflame with a mysterious rash, her nose and eyes swollen from who knows what. A shadow of her normal self. She would periodically say, "Mommy, it's coming. I know it is." Even though it didn't. And we would keep waiting. She, to feel better. I, for patience, for answers, for relief for my Brave One. And I don't know if it was in her child's wisdom or her feverish haze that she reassured me. It would get better. It was coming. We wouldn't be here forever.
And while I would have given about anything to leave that bathroom, the thought of leaving scared me, too. The morning had been rampant. Before I'd even gotten my coffee poured in the cup, the children had fought, I had been sick, the puppy had peed all over the floor, there had been time outs, emails, texts, phone calls. Appointments made, appointments broken. All dancing to the background music of a climbing fever and a sick, sick child.
Holding the cup between her legs was by far the most peaceful part of the morning.
What is one to think of Holy Week, really? One like me, who spends those sacred days sitting on a restroom floor?
It can seem so detached. I think it has to do with the word "holy" because it seems unreachable, unattainable. I imagine quiet cathedrals and solemn parades. Priests and all of the righteous in pressed, new clothes, spending hours praying and meditating, thinking of the cross. They realize something new during this week, they achieve something deeper.
I, on the other hand, am worried sick over this child. The prayers I am saying are for her. There seems to be nothing left for Him. I will get no deeper.
I am still holding this cup, and waiting. Our humanity in this moment--it is real, it is fragile. There is no hint of holiness here in this bathroom with these germs and this defeated mother.
And I wonder, in a distant and hazy thought: didn't he have a cup too? Wasn't he holding a cup, and didn't he want it to go away? It strikes a nerve.
He was emeshed in humanity, too. There was sickness, pain, uncleanliness. He wasn't safe and separated in holiness. That week, his last one, it was more like mine--like sitting on a bathroom floor with a sick one--than like theirs--praying and reading and celebrating.
It wasn't Holy Week for him. It was a week like any other. Laced with turmoil, conflict, tears, pain, betrayal. The holy part of his week was simply the knowledge of what was to come. That on Sunday, hope was coming. That he himself would bring it. That all of this unholiness could be touched by his presence and start becoming new on Sunday.
He knew that it was coming. Hope, healing, peace. But that he had to first walk through this week. Holy Week.
He walked it as us, and now we can walk it as he did.
Sitting on that floor suddenly seemed the perfect place to be. I was observing Holy Week, hoping, in earnest, for Sunday.