Exhaustion and Transformation


Exhaustion 2

I am wiped.

After multiple services on Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday, I am pretty much gutted. Which is, I think, the genius of it all. Intentionally, Holy Week is an ordeal.  It creates a series of rituals that slowly drain your physical, emotional and spiritual energies. And it’s cumulative.

Every Holy Week I think I’m finally smart enough to plan ahead, get my rest, and be in total control all week. But someone always dies. The computer mysteriously deletes three pages of your sermon. You’re in the ER at midnight with your cat’s UTI. There’s always something.

You’re up late and up early. Sleep deprivation is key. It wears you down and renders you emotionally vulnerable. You find yourself tearing up at the strangest things.

If the barrier to transformation is our need for control, then the ordeal of Holy Week is designed to wear us down, weaken our egoic will and make us vulnerable to some power beyond ourselves.

Here’s what I think I know (to be honest, I’m not really sure): Not all exhaustion—obviously—is good. But sometimes it is the only thing that can overwhelm our impregnable defenses—against change, new truths, the entrance of the ‘other,’ anything that challenges our preferred way of seeing ourselves, other people and the world.

The blessings of exhaustion are always seen in hindsight. While we’re in it, we just want out! But later, sometimes, we can give thanks for the struggles that brought us to the end of ourselves. That is how I think I feel on Easter night.

Then again—ask me in the morning.

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