Over many years, I had one of the longest commutes one could have in Ireland. I had taken on a job on the other side of the country, in Limerick. It took me a few years to figure out how to do this: both, the station in Dublin and the station in Limerick were not in walking distance. So I had two bicycles: one in Dublin and one in Cork. It was about 20 minutes cycle under normal conditions on either side of the train ride. At the end of each day, I would have cycled a total of 20km and traveled 400km on the train.
I remember one Easter week cycling back home in Dublin in the dark, against the wind, and through pouring rain (just an ordinary day). I was almost home when the song “Oh Haupt voll Blut und Wunden” for some reason came up on my iPod. It was when I realised that life is like the Passion. That it was full of suffering and required huge efforts to see it through. That there are people along the way helping you up when you fall, washing away the tears, easing the pain. What surprised me most was that it was more a liberating thought than a depressing one, as i would have expected.
The UKE has a quiet room, a bit like a chapel, without it being declared a chapel. (If this sounds a bit “German”, it is.) Today, and with the day that’s in it, there was a book and on its open page was a short poem called Golgatha. It said:
um die neunte Stunde
als er schrie
sind wir ihm
wie aus dem Gesicht geschnitten.
if not in the ninth hour
when he shouted
like his spitting image.
For the past few years, this Easter Week, we took to the famous “camino” in Spain. We walked the one coming up from the South. Each year we walked it for a few days. In 2013, we made it up to Astoria, where the Ruta de la Plata coming up from the South meets the French route, coming from the East. This week, we would have walk passed the wonderful Puebla de Sanabria, en route towards Santiago. We would have stopped in some small village to see the “pasos”, Spain’s famous Easter Week processions.
Oh Haupt voll Blut und Wunden ist based on an old 13th century poem in Latin on the Passion of Christ. The music to this poem was written bei Bach in the 18th century and is part of the St Matthew Passion.
O Head full of blood and wounds,
full of pain and full of derision,
O Head, in mockery bound
with a crown of thorns,
O Head,once beautifully adorned
with the most honour and adornment,
but now most dishonoured:
let me greet you!
You noble countenance,
before which once shrinks and cowers
the great might of the world,
how you are spat upon!
How you are turned pallid!
Who has treated those eyes
to which no light is comparable
I’ll get over this. There will be another day. Easter is near. And with it hope. Tonight, I have a heavy heart.