I'm the kind of person who skips to the conversation when reading a book.
I need to say right up front that this, in no way, is meant to mock or make fun of. Yes, I giggled inside, but I was touched in a deeper way, and that’s what I want to tell you.
Last night our church had their annual “Cross Walk” — a mostly-silent walk through the village carrying a large cross. We stop at various places in town, the lawns of other churches, in front of the library, in front of a municipal building, or just on a street corner, to read parts of the Easter story. Our church organizes it, but other churches join in.
It’s a silent walk, except for the readings. The silence leads to an acute awareness of the surroundings — the people who stare from passing cars and trucks, the friends who wave from inside a restaurant, the cold wet wind that blows against my face, my icy hands, the dog poop on the sidewalk, the brown grass of winter that has not yet made way for spring, and always the cross, carried by young and old, leading the way through town.
Men and women, adults and children, took part in the readings. A woman from another church read in a high sing-song-y voice with a hint of an accent that I couldn’t place. An older fellow with Parkinson’s read in halting way, hesitating in odd places, and I wondered if it was his illness. Some read boldly, confidently. Others read more quietly, stumbling over words like Gethsemane and Golgotha.
One woman who participated was one I consider a “hip” mom. She’s younger than I am and energetic. Her hair is spiky and cool. She always has a ready smile and laugh. Except for the times she’s crying because she’s been touched by something. Yes, she’s the kind of person who wears her emotions for the world share, and they are usually of the cheerful sort.
Recently she had shared her story in church. She didn’t remember church being a part of her life growing up. She had married young, had two little girls, and gone through an ugly divorce. She remarried and had three more children, the little gingers arranged in a row next to her each Sunday. When her first husband died in a terrible accident a few years ago, she was devastated. As the father of her two oldest girls, he had still been an important part of her life. Pastor A had called on her, helped her through this difficult time, and eventually she began attending church.
All this is to say that church is relatively new to her. The Christmas story and the Easter story are heard with a wonder and newness that I lack. Because she has had a steady diet of Santa Claus and the Easter bunny, when she hears the real story, it’s all new to her and exciting and joyful.
So she came and carried the cross and read one of the readings. That was when I sort of giggled, but didn’t.
“Trial before Pilates,” she read, like it was an exercise class. She said it “Pi-LAH-teez,” not “PI-lət,” like the guy who flies an airplane.
During her reading, Pilate’s name came up four more times, and she pronounced it the same way each time, and each time, it became endearing to me. The fact that Pilates was more familiar to her that Pontius Pilate drove home to me the fact that was still all new to her.
And I loved it.
May we never lose the newness and the joy of the Easter story.
And I wonder what a Pontius Pilates class would entail?