Most years I've spent this Thursday of Holy Week remembering Jesus' last meal with his disciples. We'll have a modified Passover meal, a seder dinner, and maybe have some foot or hand washing in there to remember Jesus' service to his disciples.
In years past, most of my Maundy Thursday reflections have been confined to the Upper Room. This year they've branched out, and ended up in the Garden of Gethsemane. All because of this Taizé chant:
Stay with me
Remain here with me
Watch and pray
Watch and pray
Jesus goes to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray, and he brings his disciples with him. He calls on three of his closest disciples - Peter, James and John - to stay and keep watch. Stay with me. Watch and pray.
And then he prays. He prays out his pain and agony to his Father. He prays in such anguish. He even sweats blood. But all the while he knows - he knows he is going to die.
He didn't bring the disciples so they could convince God to spare his life. He didn't bring the disciples so they could protect him from Judas and the soldiers who were going to arrest him. No, it was simpler, more heartwrenching, more human than that. Jesus has asked his disciples to keep vigil for him. To sit vigil as he prepares to die. Stay with me. Watch and pray.
Tonight, when I heard this hymn, this song from the Taizé community, I realized that I know this song - not just the lyrics, not just the melody. I know this song in my bones.
Because this is the song my mom sang as she was dying. Not literally - when she was near the end she couldn't speak at all. This is the song her spirit sang as she lay there in her bed, her breathing slowing, unable to eat or speak anymore. This is what she called us to do. Stay with her. Remain with her. Watch and pray.
I know this song. I know this vigil. I know how to sit with someone who is dying. And today, on Maundy Thursday, it both hurts like hell and brings me closer to Jesus.