...to yield some contact, however muffled, with the grain of that old life, startling in its ribbed strength and dangerous still.
- Reynolds Price
Now it was the Passover, the feast of unleavened bread, after two days and the chief priests and the scholars searched for how seizing him by deceit they might kill him for they said, "Not at the feast or there'll be an outcry from the people."
- Mark's gospel
Such is the story. It began with scholars searching for him against the backdrop of a city swollen with people. "As soon as you find him, send word and I'll join you at once in your worship." Such was Herod's pretending. No king desires to share the throne with another.
And his life nears conclusion in much the same way. The crowds for Passover would have been enormous. Herod's words still hung in the air; they just came from different throats: "As soon as you find him, send word..."
Mark begins these days by specifying time: two days before Passover, Wednesday, the thirteenth day of the month called Nisan. He also begins by specifying an intent: kill - transitive verb: to deprive of life; cause the death of; to slaughter (as a hog) for food; to put an end to, e.g., kill competition.
My friend, make no mistake. As we walk through this season of Lent, a man will die. He will be deprived of his life. He will be put an end to. The competition will be killed. Not in some parallel universe or dimension. No, he will be killed in the time and space in which we live and move and have our being.
To fully enter into these days means excavating necessity: "of what we must do, as opposed to what we should or ought to do" (Henry Bugbee). We must let the story unfold. To jump to the end and read knowing "the rest of the story" is to arrive premature, always a precarious condition. To fully feel the weight of this season we must labor toward that which was conceived. The gestation of Lent must run its course before Love is birthed. "Naked and afraid into this cold dark place."
"...no matter how many times I have lived through his crucifixion, my anxiety about his resurrection is undiminished - I am terrified that, this year, it won't happen..."
- A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving