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.

Heart to Heart: Lent One

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I’m keeping company this Lent with a group of wise women.  We’re considering courage, from the old French word coeur meaning ‘heart’.  We’re coming together to be a Lenten community that nurtures the practice of living heart-to-heart, asking ourselves what practices will encourage us to resist strategies of invulnerability.

How will we consider our hearts through the metaphor and the meaning of being heart to heart with Jesus as he sets his face to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51-56)?  Laying our ear against the heart of the Compassionate One, or standing heart to heart we internalize his pulse.  Through the joined beat of our hearts we practice courage in the world.

We read together the wonderful book for children (and adults) The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers.  And we stepped close to the One who says, Stay with me, through the prayer practice sometimes called Ignatian contemplation.

I invite you to enter listening first to the text and then the words of imagination.

Hanging by a thread

 

Thinking about church and the transfiguration I found a piece of conversation jangling around in my mind like loose change in a pocket.  It was a conversation about “church”, where we are now and where we were 10 or 15 or 20 years ago, those of us who are part of church community.  The conversational fragment went something like, “then we still thought we could turn it around . . . “.  And now, the implication was, we know we can’t.

This fragment joined on to another conversational piece, also from last week, about the future of the church and what it would look like.  The frequent emotional attendants of these conversations are anxiety or resignation or even fear.

The frequent embodiment of these emotions are frenetic activity, dogged grasping or lethargy.  The first expresses itself in a reaching into the whirlwind of new modes and models, pulling out some bright, glittering shape to try to pull down over the hips of your congregation,  your regional or national structure, regardless of whether it does anything for you, regardless of whether it’s ‘you’, heedless of what it looks like in the mirror of the Holy.  The second, keeps the past firmly buttoned, right up to the neck, even though the fabric is straining and the gussets have popped.  The third, well, what does it matter who or what we put on.

In the pocket of my heart this morning, this phrase, “we no longer think we can turn it around” brings a sense of relief.  It is perhaps, in this relinquishment of optimism, that hope begins.  And it is hope that so catches us with quiet wonder that we are compelled to sit down, right where we are, and look at the substance of it.

Because Transfiguration is so unlike us turning the church around so unlike any kind of figuring it out.

What if the future of the church is wonder?  What if we can’t even begin to imagine it without that sitting down with the substance of hope in our hands; sitting down regularly, faithfully, crazily, fingering its inchoate texture.   What if the sitting down with hope in our hands is the most vital thing we can do?[1]   What if we remember that creativity isn’t just about expressivity but  receptivity?    It’s about cupping our hearts for grace.

What if is is about knowing ourselves and our church as “hanging by God’s thread of pure love”[2] and marveling, each time we gather, at the gift.  What if we know ourselves turned on that bright filament and wait, hearts practiced, to gather the material of Grace in our hands and put it on.

[1] I’m tempted to say that the models and the modes are important too, and they are, but I’m just mentioning that in the fine print because really, they’re just gaudy without the sitting down part.
[2] Catherine of Genoa.  Shalem Institute Leading Contemplative Prayer Groups and Retreats:  Transforming Community materials

This is not Trump’s day

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Photo from Pixabay Images

On this seemingly surreal but also real day when Donald J. Trump will be inaugurated as  President of the United States, it is not more commentary or assessment, however well written, I need.

Because how many words have we read, and listened to, and shared, that told us what many of us knew so early on?  How many ways has our tongue sought out the tooth that was cracked and found it as it had been five minutes before?  Today will be the day a gold crown is stuck on over the crack.  There will be more pain.

But there will also be Love and a thousand, thousand movements of justice that will roll out across worlds and there will be those that are hidden in hearts and pressed hand to hand and there will be those that are seen as tears and those that march and those that cover canvas with colour and those who spin threads and clay.

This is what I need to know as it appears the painful crack will widen.  That a thousand, thousand hearts are called to prayer.  That love flows through the gaps in the crowds and hems in hearts that are poised to strike out and rinses the wounds of those who will most grievously receive the weight of this day.

What does it mean this day, this very day, when we touch the crack and long for the anaesthia of rancour or bright bitterness, to receive, to hold out our hearts like begging bowls for love, to feel them filled, to pass them round.  What does it mean, even on this cracked day to feel at our centre the water and fire and fastness that is Love.

I invite you to take one tiny bowl of time each hour this day
Hold it in words or silence to be filled.

Consider it.
Because this day too is Love’s.