It so often rains on Good Friday that I’ve come to expect it. But today, just a dull, grey, overcast sky.
I don’t know what it means—Good Friday. These traditions are centuries deep with meaning and passion. And also with humanity and weakness and corruption. I can’t make sense of it all. But I was raised with these traditions, and I can’t help but notice them as they happen.
Every once in awhile, there is a glimpse of something.
This song, by Sicilian singer Rosa Balistreri, Venniri Santu (Good Friday), is something.
From the first notes, I am taken in.
Singing in Sicilian, Rosa tells of Mary meeting Veronica on the morning of Good Friday. Mary asks if Veronica has seen her son, Jesus. Veronica says, yes, she met him and wiped his face with her veil. Mary is comforted to know that someone cared for her son as he suffered on his last day, in his last hours. In the final verse of the song, she rises up with anger and cries that Judas has betrayed her.
Four short verses. Two women. A moment of connection and compassion. The pain of loss and betrayal.
Like any good and profound story, it doesn’t tell you what to think or feel or believe. Rosa sings it. The song is beautiful, in all its haunting, sorrowful despair. Rosa is so intense and there is so much power in her voice. When she sings, I don’t hear a story about Mary or Jesus. I hear Rosa’s story.
At its best, religion is not about rules or righteousness, not about believing or belonging, not about sins or being saved. It’s about the ways that we all suffer and the path we must walk alone. It’s about our own journey — never anyone else’s. It’s a movement toward love and connection, toward being a better human. At their best, traditions help us remember this.
They way I hear Rosa tell it, the most holy thing we can do is show up for each other.