“Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone, silence the pianos”
The words of Funeral Blues by W H Auden remind me of when my grandfather died. Everything stopped – literally. Curtains were closed, the clock was stopped, the radio turned off, the television covered with a cloth and would not be watched until the funeral was over. For a child it was all a bit spooky and sombre but it was the way of acknowledging the major loss that had just occurred. Instead of entertainment there was conversation about the man who had died and prayers for his soul. His life and death became the total focus. Those days were all about him. A veil of sorrow and remembrance was thrown over everything. A veil of mourning, a mourning that included a lot of eating and drinking and even music.
I remember in Shankill visiting a man whose wife had just died. We all sat around the kitchen table and every time he started to talk about her he would start crying, they would all cry so in the end they decided to play the music that she liked. Not a cd or anything like that. It was their own live music, they themselves played the instruments that gave expression to what could not be put into words.
Something like that happens when we move into Holy Week when we are asked to share the sorrow of the awful suffering of Jesus, to remember and somehow mourn for Him as for an only child as the Prophet says. So, we cover all the statues with a veil, something that is a bit scary and spooky for children and maybe even adults but it forces us to think about what really happened to Jesus, to feel some of the pain of it. In Holy Week we cannot take comfort in the devotions that normally help us. The tender care of Mary and the saints is put aside while we pay full attention to Jesus. We take Him seriously in a way that we might not normally do.
And then once we have allowed His sorrow to touch us we will come to Easter when the veils are lifted and new light fills the church and each of our hearts.