A Rumination on Good Friday

Around this time last year, I posted a translation I did of The Dream of the Rood. It’s been on my mind again in recent weeks, partly because it is the time of year that it is, and partly because of some other things going on about which I might comment at some point or another; I am not yet certain. Today, I have some leisure to attend to it, having been given an unexpected day off from my regular job, something for which I am grateful; I rather enjoy writing, however good or otherwise I might be at the task, and the thinking that undergirds it has its charms, so that the opportunity to engage in both is a welcome thing.

From about this time last year…
The Ruthwell Cross by JThomas is licensed under CC-BY-SA 2.0

For many, especially in this part of the world, the day serves as a reminder of sacrifice and the necessary costs of salvation, prepaid for those who, like the dreamer in the poem, are aftercomers “stained with sins, / badly wounded with sins.” (I think I could polish the translation more, but that is another project for another time, one of many that might be imagined.) Much is made of the magnitude of the sacrifice, of the agony that was endured by those crucified in the Roman style, and better theologians and historians than I can speak more eloquently and accurately to the same.

For my own part, as often, I find myself coming up with questions that I expect would be heterodoxies to voice–if not more. Ideas about their answers abound for me, offering other projects that might be undertaken; there is never a shortage of them, although there are shortages of my time and talents to attend to them all. (I would seem to have internalized humilitas to some extent, both sincerely and otherwise.) But if I were to voice one idea, one that might not be so divergent as all that: the story so widely celebrated today, the self-sacrificial sin-taking for others’ redemption, speaks to many to say that there is some hope, and that even amid those who would abuse laws to persecute those whom they perceive as threats to their power, there is some sympathy to be found.

I am not sure, certainly, how far to follow that idea, how far it can be followed. That there are limits to any such thing, I am well aware; indeed, one of the standard questions I pose in the lesson plans I still write is to find the point of failure and interrogate it. But I am no longer at the front of the classroom, so it is not for me to push others to such contemplations. It is for me, however, to conduct them myself, and a solemn observance–even in advance of a joyous occasion–offers opportunity for such things.

I remain grateful for such things.

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