On Good Friday, at ten in the morning, I went to see my supervisor for spiritual direction. Kay is someone who helps me with vocational discernment, but our sessions together are just as much spiritual direction as they are supervision.
That day, I told her what had happened in the labyrinth in January and how Christ and I had been facing each other, sitting on the ground outside the labyrinth, ever since.
At some point during the course of our session, when Kay invited me into prayer, I noticed the image had shifted a bit. Now, between us on the ground, covering all those many losses, was a purple robe.
It was a plush robe, almost blanket-like. And it was covering all of my pain.
I didn't get what that meant.
But later, when I went to my church's Good Friday service at noon, my whole being was arrested when I heard our deacon read these words as part of the long Gospel text for the day:
"Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. They kept coming up to him, saying, 'Hail, King of the Jews!' and striking him on the face. Pilate went out again and said to them, 'Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no case against him.' So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, 'Here is the man!'"
I stood still in the pew when I heard that. The purple robe. How was it that a purple robe had shown up in my prayer during the session with Kay not two hours earlier, and here it was again? What could that mean?
I didn't know.
I decided that was okay. It was enough to have noticed the purple robe in my prayer, enough to have heard it echoed in the Gospel text that same day, enough to keep sitting on the ground with the robe between us now, even if I didn't know what it meant.
We sat that way for a long time. I could not tell you how long, only that every time I went into prayer, there Christ and I still sat, on the ground outside the labyrinth, and there was the robe between us.
I appreciated so much that he didn't rush me. I appreciated that he didn't force himself near to me when I wasn't ready.
But then one day, I was.
I went to prayer, and I was no longer sitting opposite Christ. Now we were sitting side by side. Now we were looking at the purple robe from the same side of it.
I had moved to where he was.