Utility trucks lumber over every road; crews in hoodies and hard hats are churning through the debris and fallen trees. And life somehow goes on in quick catches of breath: new babies and Alzheimer’s, uncoupled lovers and new families, laughter and fears. Fragility and vulnerability somehow incredibly visible. It was the storm, of course, and now New England glows with the calm aftermath, realigning the reality of what is just past.
And so it is with Laetare Sunday: fourth week of Lent, rose-colored vestments, and a homily about the mysteries of married love, of wanting so much for the other person to be happy. This is a day, a pause, to welcome that which actually is before us, that which is real and so often unacknowledged. Fragility finds strength in love; vulnerability knows wholeness in love. And this day, this moment, is fashioned to linger there, with the idea that life’s vagaries, tragedies, successes and very mundaneness are completely transcended by the unimaginable depth of love manifested in Christianity.
It is lived out by the pattern of Jesus’ life, by the suffering and the sacrifice, the betrayals and the pain, by the promise that love endures past all that. His figure, his movement through the Gospels mirrors the human journey in pained expression. His figure, bending to trace letters in the sand to save an adulteress, his figure reminds us not of revenge or retribution or even justice. He is about finding the planks in our own eyes, about truly seeing one another, and knowing in the depths of soul, the imperfections of self. He is about balancing living and promise with the richness of mercy and compassion. He is about seeing self as clearly as we claim to see other. He is about making room for one another realistically and about allowing for the choice to “shake the dust” from feet and move on. He does not mock or destroy: he challenges and invites, dares and inspires. And on this Sunday, there is that quiet pause to remember the more.
In these long weeks of Lent, Laetare Sunday is an interruption of sorts. It is the reminder that there is an unfathomable depth and breadth to the love of God, something far beyond what is seen or even imagined, and yet it is always there, somehow present even when it cannot be seen. It is the subtle reality so easy to overlook. And when the storms arrive, somehow, it is all that is visible. It is home.