A Letter for Holy Week & Easter To the Beloved in Christ at AshmontDear Friends:The first six weeks of 2017 were a low point in my life. A beloved friend of mine was, I eventually realized, dying. The weather was ghastly – gray sunless gloomy days. My cancer chemo made me feel frigid in the cold and sleeting snow and rain as I went to visit him most days in a downtown hospital. I felt not only physically rundown but spiritually bleak. No, it was not a crisis of faith, but a crisis of energy. "Depleted" is probably the word I am looking for. We know that the sun itself never stops shining. The sun itself is always blazing away. But in New England in winter we can sometimes go days without seeing it. We know it's there, but it seems to be absent.God is always there, but from time to time, in life's valleys, we lose sight of Him. In the liturgy of Maundy Thursday, we normally read St. John's account (Chapter 13) of Jesus washing the disciples' feet the night before he died. Later in that same chapter, Jesus tells the disciples that one of them will betray him. As the Last Supper ends and Jesus and his guests depart, St. John concludes his account with these words: "And it was night."And it was night in every sense of the world. Utter darkness. St. Luke tells us that there was darkness at noontide when Jesus uttered his last word from the cross: "It was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun's light failed, and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, 'Father, into Thy hands I commit my spirit.'"God understands our experience of life's darkness, our experience of the "dark night of the soul," because he became a human being and experienced the dregs of human life long before us.Each year we set aside the Triduum – Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil – to commemorate God's love for his followers in every generation. On the last night of his life, Jesus gathers his followers at his table and offers them himself. In humility his love takes the form of washing their feet. But they respond with betrayal, betrayal not just by Judas, but by his disciples who deny him and who fall asleep when he asks them to watch with him.. The next day he is scorned and put to a slow and agonizing death, deserted by everyone except his mother Mary and his disciple John. There is no humiliation, no darkness you and I experience that Jesus did not experience before us. His actions, his words from the cross teach us how to respond to life.That is why we put aside all other things in our lives in order to be present on Maundy Thursday and the all night vigil that follows and on Good Friday. We make that journey with Jesus. He asks us his followers, "Could you not watch with me?"Finally, on Saturday night we gather in total darkness. It certainly seems that darkness has won, that evil has prevailed: Jesus has been betrayed, left to die a humiliating death unsupported by his followers. Then in the darkness we hear the Deacon proclaim, "The Light of Christ" as the new light is carried into the church and the Exultet is sung, the great events of our salvation are proclaimed from Scripture, and finally the gold-clad altar is unveiled and we are enveloped and bathed in the brilliant and joyful light of the first mass of the Resurrection.Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights (April 13-14-15) at 7 p.m. We make Jesus' journey our own pilgrimage from the bondage of darkness and death, from the bleakness and depletion of our own weary lives, to the joy of new light, new life, new hope. We must allow nothing to stand in the way of our participation in this pilgrimage. F.W.J.