The spread in the calendars divides me this year from my “western leaning” Christian friends and family. On this day, the Gregorian calendar informs us that it is Good Friday. In about 5 weeks the Julian calendar will issue its own proclamation of Good Friday and I’ll be in the throes of Holy Week finally. In between I’ll be scrounging and stockpiling marshmallow peeps and waiting.
I ran across this poem today though by Ranier Maria Rilke and thought I’d post it for those of you who are embracing the dark and the hope-filled this weekend. Our calendars may not agree but the sense of what we’re doing here, why we follow this narrative and not another, on that point at least we agree.
The Last Supper
They are assembled, astonished and disturbed
round him, who like a sage resolved his fate,
and now leaves those to whom he most belonged,
leaving and passing by them like a stranger.
The loneliness of old comes over him
which helped mature him for his deepest acts;
now will he once again walk through the olive grove,
and those who love him still will flee before his sight.
To this last supper he has summoned them,
and (like a shot that scatters birds from trees)
their hands draw back from reaching for the loaves
upon his word: they fly across to him;
they flutter, frightened, round the supper table
searching for an escape. But he is present
everywhere like an all-pervading twilight-hour.
[On seeing Leonardo da Vinci’s “Last Supper”, Milan 1904.]
Translated by Albert Ernest Flemming
Rainer Maria Rilke