For a long time now, Good Friday has been my favorite day on the Liturgical calendar. I love that my faith tradition centers itself, in a very real way, around suffering. It is essential for me to start from the belief that my God suffers. That God is present in suffering in the world.
Last Good Friday, I was a theology teacher at an imaginative, supportive Catholic school with bright students and dedicated teachers. I was constantly amazed at how the community would rise up day in and day out to embrace those who were suffering. Young and old, theists and atheists alike were given the space to build meaningful community. I was also a part of a community that met to discuss the big questions in life. It was a safe space to explore questions of faith with friends. I had several different worshipping communities where I felt welcome and stimulated. I had family and friends to break bread with. I pushed the Catholic Church to do better, especially for its young people and those who are suffering, but I did it in the context of a lively Catholic community that was filled with grace.
This Good Friday, I feel like a wanderer. In my circles now, it isn’t cool to believe in God. I only have a few atheists in my life who openly respect my theism. My professor yesterday said to me about a story I wrote, “I am not sure about God in this piece. I think God has to go.” The theists are not that supportive either. I have Christian friends who have been pushing me, “You aren’t still Catholic are you?” Headlines like this get sent to me. People just can’t understand why I stay. It is hard to process the polarization and politicizing that is happening in the National discourse about religion without a strong faith community to ground me. At first, moving from teaching theology to studying at a secular school was refreshing, restorative and healing. On Good Friday, I feel uprooted and isolated.
One of my mentors, Joan Mitchell, articulated the problem well and offered a meaningful solution. When speaking at a church a few weeks ago about the backlash post Vatican II, she encouraged Catholics to weather the storm by reading the gospel together and forming make shift communities as needed. It is a simple suggestion, steeped in hope and wisdom. A few months ago, she asked me to contribute weekly to a blog for young people. Every week, I read the lectionary Gospel and write a reflection. I did not think much of it when I agreed to contribute, but progressively this blogging community, this weekly gospel reflection has been increasingly life-giving to me. It has become a pivotal part of my spiritual practice. Weekly, I step away from debates about birth control, marriage and the like, I read the gospel, and I connect with a community on a Spirit level. This Good Friday, I am deeply appreciate for that.