Vera Jo Bustos
A Mindful Journey - (Free Excerpt) Good Friday
"We waited to enter. The line inched forward. No one leaned to the side to see what had taken so long. Everyone would wait for hours, if necessary."
Photo by @GlennaRose - Imagery is an example of the Epitaphios
*Excerpt taken from the book A Mindful Journey, which took place in Greece
Part II – Day 84
I attended a funeral of a man I’d never met face to face, a man I’d known all my life. He’s a man I’d prayed to, and a man I’d prayed for. His wisdom is my inspiration, His sacrifice is my blessing. I follow His path but never in His footprints. He never asked anyone to be Him, just be like Him. I can’t miss Him, because He’s always with me. And still, it saddens me that He is not walking among us.
I attended the funeral of my savior, Jesus Christ.
I was in Perea, Greece. It was Holy Week. Alex, Eleni and I were outside the church, along with approximately two hundred others. We waited to enter. The line inched forward. No one leaned to the side to see what had taken so long. Everyone would wait for hours, if necessary. The mood was somber, silent. Out of respect, and admiration.
We entered a church filled to capacity. There were more people than pews. It was anticipated. Wooden chairs traced the walls throughout. Each seat was occupied. Our line inched down the center aisle toward the front of the church. When I reached the altar, I saw a giant wooden cross. Behind it was one word: “Epitaphios.” It translated to “the coffin” of Jesus.
The Epitaphios was visually stunning. White and red roses were stitched together with other colorful flowers and fashioned in an arrangement that was fit for a king, which it was. A cloth, with the image of the dead body of Jesus, rested on a platform, which resembled a bier. It was topped with an elaborate flower canopy.
I smelled the scent of roses before I saw the inscription. INBI. In Greek, that stands for Ιησούς Ναζοραίος Βασιλεύς Ιουδαίων. In English, it means Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews.
Eleni approached first and kissed the cross. I followed her example. As did Alex. We walked to the Epitaphios. Scattered rose petals extended the length of it. A bible rested on top. It, too, received kisses.
The kissing of the cross out of respect to the Epitaphios rekindled the Catholic in me. At Christmas mass, we kiss the baby Jesus on His birthday. Both are traditions worth continuing.
With no place to sit, we headed outside. I noticed for the first time the back wall. Lit candles illuminated it. A woman added to the glow. With eyes closed, her lips whispered a prayer only God could hear. Once outside, we waited for the procession to come to us.
The church bells tolled. Four men emerged, carrying the Epitaphios. Each man shouldered a corner. The church emptied behind them. Hand-held candles lit the darkness. I smelled rain. A gap opened. We filled it. A lightness overtook my body, my soul. I, like everyone else, was in mourning. Then again, this wasn’t the end of the story, just a chapter.
We continued toward the city square. I smelled the scent of roses. I looked around. We were nowhere close to the Epitaphios. It wasn’t the breeze. There was none. It wasn’t my imagination, either. Of that, I’m still certain. Could the impossible be possible? Why not? I said a silent prayer of gratitude...
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