Here's the thing: we are in the run-up to Easter, and it always makes the hair on the nape of my neck stand up. It is so definitely not fun. I'm one of those people for whom saying the Stations of the Cross is the equivalent to getting a root canal done without Novocain. I just can't do the suffering part. It hurts too much.
Part of the problem is that we live in a culture which does not do suffering. We do complaining, as in: this is a bad hair day; my kid is not toilet-trained yet and I am going out of my mind; my mother-in-law is interfering in my life; and my car makes this funny crrsshhkkk sound as it goes around a corner. And what is that about?
So signing on to a religion which has a substantial amount of pain at its core is a very radical and scary thing to do. I know that in the end it turns out all right. More than all right. But with my teensy-tiny attention span I am having difficulty seeing beyond Jesus' suffering to that glorious end point.
I have a modest proposal. Let's insert a rewind button into the whole Triduum and Holy Week. I can imagine myself lounging on the sofa, avoiding the cracker crumbs, looking at what's to come--the Via Dolorosa--and rearing back in horror. "Say it ain't so!" I mutter, pressing the rewind button and re-envisioning how the lead up to Easter should go.
Jesus comes into Jerusalem on a fine, white charger, all of the red leather trappings gleaming in the hot sun. He is welcomed by the High Priests. He is invited to lie down to supper with the Romans and feted with song, wine, and some very delicious olives sent especially from Rome. There is no betrayal, no scourging, no horrific walk down the Via Dolorosa, and no final ending which we can scarcely bear to witness.
Instead, Jesus hands out boxes of tiny donut holes to his followers, and all is well. People sign on to his renewal of faith, and pledge to follow his way with no complaining. His dear mother, Mary, does not have to suffer with her son but instead hands out cups of strong coffee to their followers, happy that Simeon's dire prophecy has not come true. She envisions a tiny stone house with olive vines growing around its walls and Jesus, her son, growing old and wise along with her.
In my alternate Easter there will be no pain, no beating, and no accusations of the innocent. In my alternate universe Pilate will hand out chocolate Easter eggs--having discovered that worshiping chocolate totally works--and his hard, ruthless interior will have disappeared. In this world, nothing hard will be asked of me, no sacrifices need to be made. I smile in relief, thinking--This is a religion I can get behind!
Bemused by my happy rewriting of history, I forget that there is one small problem: When I die there will be a pause, a moment of silence as I come to the startling realization--there also is no resurrection.