Matt is a Micah Fellow serving at The Crossing.
As a minister of The Crossing—our ministry is collective—I am empowered to engage in the contemporary spiritual practices of pottery and qigong, to reimagine worship and mission and community—to reconfigure these elements of faith not as linear but circular.
On All Hallows’ Eve, we inhabited sainthood by wearing the garbs of “holy figures” past, present, and imminent—an interpretive role-play. Our Easter Vigil with the Cathedral will be a culmination of the defeat of death that features firespinning, poetry, pageantry, drama, dance. Our Rule of Life is the holy restlessness of curiosity in the face of the sacred.
As part of our ongoing missional initiative to strengthen our ecumenical relationships by collaborating more deeply with other faith communities, The Crossing recently joined with Old West Methodist Church to participate in the Ash Wednesday service of The Sanctuary, a fellow emergent worship community, rooted in the Unitarian Universalist tradition.
When at last I had reached historic First Church Boston near Arlington for the Lenten service, I felt keenly the ache of the long hours of my day. I was almost numb, inert—barely buoyed in the low dull light of the church’s sanctuary. In a sense, I was starved.
The environs of that Unitarian church were starkly Christless—no cross, no crucifix, no dark robes or veils or palm fronds. Only the bare pews and the organ—a high steel scaffold of music—and the structure’s spacious, lunging vaults.
When the time for the distribution of ashes arrived, however, a deep thing within me was struck—a resonant chord, an ancient gong. The ministers of The Sanctuary initiated the ritual in a mode at once alien and yet freeing in its minimalism, its lifting of the pressure for a climactic encounter with radiance. The name of Christ was alluded to merely once. It was only that raw touch of ash to flesh, the evidence that I am mortal.
We are dust—we are spirit, the music in my mind whispered.
In that instant, I felt as if the only Christ in the sanctuary—and in the universe, deep clear sea of air—was the thin bare shape of a cross at my temple, where the vein trembles. Intimate. Silent. Nearly without substance.
In the days of my upbringing in the Catholic Church, I recall the thin translucent scrim veiling the gilded crucifix beyond the altar. The body of Christ still evident, still visible, yet not completely “here.” For Lent, The Crossing honors that tradition by casting a white cloth—like the froth of bridal wear—over the cross on the wall, over its gilt blades that burst as rays of light.
Each night that we set the space for worship, as I lay the scrim over my God, pure and quiet in its repose, the void in me—the blankness of being without Christ—stirs and lifts.
For me, Lent is a time of this voidness, a liminal phase in the liturgy where the veil is thinnest between the vacuum of loss and the bright wide miraculous abyss of an imminent grace.
As I yearn toward Easter, I relinquish. I surrender to that abyss.