Holy Wednesday

 

Wednesday of Holy Week seems one of the days orphaned from its ritual parents. Swung soundlessly between  the arms of Palm Sunday and Maundy Thursday it feels unmarked in my community.    I understand the text of anointing with spikenard is often associated with this day in the liturgy and the negotiations of Judas Iscariot with the Sanhedrin.  So, following my earlier post of the I offer again these words to breathe as Christ breathes,  to touch the world’s joys and betrayals.

Sorrowing and Creating One,
You know

There has been so much taking
Of life
Of trust
Of sparkle
Of hands touching
Of dignity.

There has been so much injury
Of body
Of words
Of love
Of home
Of hope.

There have been so many images
Fast and slow
Vivid and grainy
Repetitious
and static
and terrible

And so much closing
Of minds
Of hearts
Of borders
Of doors
Of eyes.

So, we are here

For You
still
Holy

in the midst of us

We touch
in a heart beat
as we are touched.

We breathe
healing we are graced to grace with
we receive
and carry
gently as a warm egg

into these days.

The Skin and Heart of It

It’s the day after the vivid day of palms; and I stand on the edge of emptiness, in the aftermath that is also preparation.  I hold what keeps me tethered to the movement that will free me.  I turn, as I so often do in this time, to a text I can feel in my fingertips, in the palms of my hands and in my heart.  I turn to a story of the woman anointing Jesus (Mark 14: 3-9)

I turn today holding the sight of fragile bodies attacked by gas, or guns, people walking over borders in snow, single suitcases carrying a lifetime.  I turn holding the sight of women spare as cursive, curved over their beloved starving children.  I can feel this text too in my fingertips.

I enter this week when the fragile, broken body of the Compassionate One will bend over the beloved world, the skin and heart of it, and I enter it through this story.

This text we may read and pray is for me such a strong affirmation of our bodies and our beings and the gifts we bring to one another.  An affirmation also of Love’s insistence that we listen to the holy depth within us, listen to know that particular part of ourselves we are called to pour out over the body of Christ and the skin of the world.

This is a text that describes such risk and audacity.  Who would imagine that poured perfume would be the perfect gift for that particular moment of Love’s life?  Who but you and the one to whom you give it can know the holiness of your gift?

We stand on the lip of Holy Week and I long for us to enter that week in response to Love’s call.  Each of us will enter carrying our own jar.  Each of us will pour it out on the worn skin of compassion in a particular way.  We find the way that allows us to stay close. We search the offering that knows and soaks each holy day in a way that may transform it.

We find some small audacious or quiet way to honour the One who will suffer, suffer not to grimly pay some debt, to complete some awful transaction, but to be in our bodies and consciousness the fullest experience of a life lived, of Love, in joy and in anguish.

You can read Mark 14: 3 – 9 here  http://bible.oremus.org

You may enter it more deeply through the following meditation.

The Hollow in our Hearts

Petals on cobblestones Pixabay

Here we are on the edge of Holy Week.  The parade is over; wrappers and tattered banners still blow down the empty streets.  Some have stuck their palm fronds in the planters round the lamp posts. Some have forgotten their coats and there is a tiny sneaker on the curb.  The air has caught silence like the vibrations of a soundless bell.   Something is upon us.  We are called to make space, a home in us, which becomes, as this One is, for the world.

 

Under all our attempts at triumph
You have found us Love.
Ridden through our small glories
On a thick-haunched colt

In our particulars
Our skin, our bone
Our fading memories, our sprung hopes

You have come out to find us.

Lent Five: Hearts Looking

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This week we gathered around the story of Zacchaeus, another story of heart and seeing. We reflected on a Zacchaeus sermon Seeing Saints which you can find in an earlier blog post.  And we drew close to the Compassionate One as we reminded ourselves of that gospel we often forget, that we are not alone in our looking.  Rather, as Francis of Assisi tells us,

The one you are looking for is the one who is looking.  

We gathered ourselves with these words

Come
work your hands
in the warm clay of your heart

Feel its press on your lids

And under them, light.

Shape of it longing;
an ancient stream,
a new-fledged bird,
a star.

Pause to honour your fear:
sharp as moon’s crescent
the blade of grass
the tight press of lips.

Then climb –
into the rough-barked moment
the fragile limb of this life
the leafy tangle of days.

and breathless
see
the One who is looking for you.

Come ~

The Eyes of the Heart

 

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Last week we practiced Visio Divina, Sacred Seeing, allowing ourselves to be called through a curve or a cloud or a colour deep into memory and silence;  to allow the press of the divine on our lids, to receive new sight.  I remembered the sacred seeing of the man whose lids Jesus touched.  I thought of the realities of terror and indifference and hunger that so often fill our sight.  And I thought of the Compassionate One who pulls the yearning cosmos through his body, crying, “stay awake with me”.  We have this Lent practiced response to this cry, offering our hearts: their beating, their breaking and now their seeing.  This Lent our senses instruct us.  This Lent we make of our bodies, prayer.

 

A Fragment

Walking along, Jesus sees someone ready for healing.
His disciples see a chance for technical questions.
They are still unaccustomed to the answer who walks beside them

 Jesus sees a man whose eyes are cloudy and whose heart is open,
a heart waiting for new words to fall into it,
a heart waiting for the Word who will set him free.

Jesus sees a man who stays still,
a beggar’s bowl beside him,
listening,
acutely aware of the buzz of the crowd.

One feeling the space before him filling up with heat and heft of body,
feeling the movement of air as Jesus crouches down to spit in the dirt
and drag his thumbs through the paste.

There was no way to anticipate the feel of those thumbs
drawn across his lids,
tender and confident.

Though he could feel the air move,

no way to anticipate that someone who spoke words of light out of darkness
would be anything but a trickster.
No way for this one to be certain of anything but his longing.
This one was still open,
accustomed to longing so great
and hope so resilient
it didn’t question the efficacy of mud
or the power of water.

 And so he goes, down to the pool, the one born blind
the one who had never become so accustomed to who he was
that he was unable to move toward the waters
in which he would become all he could be.

The one not so accustomed to who he was
that he couldn’t hear the voice that would tell him who he was becoming.

The one not so accustomed to his infirmity
that he wouldn’t risk embarrassment or hope or credibility
to live healed,
to be changed.

 It may not have been easy for him to get to the pool,
wandering around blind with a muddy paste on his eyes.
We don’t hear that he has help – he just goes –
he just finds a way.
He washes
and as he washes the paste runs in rivulets down his cheeks.

And what do you imagine –

does he open his eyes right away with complete confidence?
Does he shade his eyes and look downward,
the first thing seen the miracle of the water.
Does he open one eye to test things out,
afraid of crushing disappointment or foolishness?   

What do you imagine?

 When he sees, it must have been overwhelming.
A fifth sense added to four already honed to an exquisite edge?
Can you imagine opening eyes on a world you’d never seen before?
Can you imagine light when you had known nothing but darkness,
The curve and line of shape
seen
when it had only ever before been felt.
Other eyes looking into yours.

 The man came back transformed,
seeing.
Back to the folks that often gathered round the pool,
back to the neighbours
and those who had put coins in his beggar’s cup.
Back to all those who aren’t touched with the blessing of new sight,
who haven’t had blind eyes opened,
who haven’t recognized the light in their midst.

The man comes back just a few steps
and he must be so bedazzled he can hardly breathe.
It is wonderful to witness such delight. 

 Can you see him right in our midst,
twirling and leaping,
drops from the pool spraying off him
caught in the net of the air
like tiny rainbow fish.
Can you see him?

 Could we have seen him?
Do we still know how to hope for transformation.
to feel tender hands on our faces
to feel our sight changing under closed lids
to really long to be healed.