Tuesday, April 14, 2009
It's cold and gray here today, with snow and rain and heavy clouds, and I've been feeling gray and heavy in consequence. The weather was like this the day after Dad died, and I think that memory is making me sad. Can weather be a grief trigger? (Why not? Anything can be a grief trigger.)
One of my students makes a point of checking in to see how I'm doing at the beginning of every class. Yesterday she asked me how I was, and I told her that I'm more behind on grading and other work for school than I've ever been.
She said gently, "You've never been through this before."
You're right. I haven't. Good point.
Meanwhile, today my sister called to say that she had to have one of their cats euthanized. That's sad enough, but worse, it turns out that this kitty had not only diabetes, but also FIP, which is contagious and incurable and may, therefore, have infected the other six cats in the household, including one my sister's been keeping for my nephew during a housing transition.
The upside to my mother not caring much about cats anymore is that she isn't devastated by this situation, as she would have been until a few months ago. My sister says her dementia's getting worse; on the other hand, she's on an appetite stimulant that's been very effective, and all her lab values are a lot better than they were, probably because she's eating well. Mom's doctor even called to congratulate her on the results.
Given the dementia, improved physical health may be a mixed blessing: one of my nightmares would be mental deterioration within a strong body, but I guess we have to take what we can get.
On a slightly less dire note, the liturgical types at my church are trying to figure out how to get more people to attend Holy Week services. There are suggestions afoot that would shorten Good Friday, or move it to the evening -- although Maundy Thursday and the Great Vigil are shorter evening services, and they're equally sparsely attended -- or try to educate parishioners about why Holy Week's so important. We've done a lot of education, though. My theory is that people avoid those services because they're gloomy and because it's just too much church in one week (I disagree, obviously, and so do the other diehards), and we can't change any of that without gutting Holy Week completely.
Last year, I preached on Maundy Thursday about how the foot-washing isn't optional. Our congregation is very foot-phobic -- hardly anyone comes up for the washing -- and I wanted to try to change that. People said the homily made them think, that maybe they'd participate this year.
This year, fewer people participated than usual. Sigh.
There's part of me that's tempted to suggest a really hardball tactic: "Jesus said that if we don't let him wash our feet, we have no share in him, so if you don't get your feet washed, you can't take communion tonight." But that would probably only drive away the people who do come to the service, but who refuse to take their socks off.
Anyway, are any of you in a parish where Holy Week services are mobbed? Do you have any suggestions for us?