Maundy Thursday. It’s today. – a day that shocks in its intensity. Jesus, the beloved rabbi is about to be betrayed. Not by an enemy but betrayed by a follower, a friend, a disciple, someone who said he loved Jesus.
Even though we recoil at the word ‘betrayal,’ if we were honest, betrayal by Judas of his friend, his mentor, his rabbi, betrayal didn’t end “back then.”
When we allow fondness for wealth or fame to overwhelm our call to be persons of justice and mercy If we name ourselves Christian, yet think unloving thoughts about another When we are selfish and put our wants before the needs of others Have we betrayed God?
When we refuse to be uplifted, enabled, and transformed by the wisdom or experience of another When we only see how right we are and ignore the learning that comes in acknowledging that we have made a mistake Have we betrayed the Creator?
When we will not accept God’s support and grace, strengthening us for the tasks we have been asked to undertake, or the new ministry roles we are challenged to experience Have we betrayed the Beloved Rabbi?
When we, who say we love God, have answered ‘yes’ to any of the above is our connection to Judas tangible?
Today, known as Maundy Thursday, is a day to feel the pain and shock of Judas’ betrayal. Today is a day to consider moments in our own lives when we have betrayed the trust of others. Today can also be a day to receive a redemptive blessing when we are willing to name our own betrayals.
As disciples of Jesus, this day offers an opportunity to honestly look at the betrayals that emerge from within us and confront the moments ~ when we have betrayed God ~ when we have not forgiven another those times ~ we acknowledge we dislike another ~ or when we speak or think unkindly of another betraying our common humanity by our words or thoughts or tweets or texts.
On this day, with less than twenty-four hours left on earth, the man Jesus gathered the disciples away from the crowds in a ritual of gathering for a meal, so familiar to them, yet this time, is so very different.
As Jesus rises from his place, ties a towel around his waist, surely the disciples looked at each other and asked themselves “What is he doing?”
And then they see and understand. He washes their feet. He gives them his final teaching: the commandment (mandatum – from which we get the name Maundy Thursday) … to love one another.
Jesus gave a way of remembering Him with a simple ritual: “Sit at table. Take bread. Break it. Share it. Pour out wine. Share it. Feed one another. Love one another. When you do that, you remember Me. When I’m gone and you feel lost, uncertain of my presence Do this and remember Me.”
If churches weren’t closed because of the pandemic, many around the world would gather this day for a simple service of worship that might include foot washing, sharing of bread and wine and even stripping of the Altar as a reminder that living the Life of Love Jesus lived, led him to be stripped and taken away.
Loving one another as Jesus loved long ago, and as Jesus loves today, through us leads us to be ‘stripped’ of the unimportant things in life and bring us closer to the One who loves us unconditionally.
On this holy Maundy Thursday, may we receive the story of Jesus in a spirit of humility and draw closer to one another and to the One who loves, unconditionally. Amen.
It is Tuesday in Holy Week. As the world continues to deal with the pandemic, those who walk this Holy Path in this holiest of holy weeks seek to make time to reflect, pray, consider Jesus’ activities on this day.
What was Jesus doing on Tuesday in Holy Week? Some say that this was the day that Jesus told the story of the fig tree (Luke 13:1-9) which goes like this: Once upon a time, there was a fig tree that did not bear fruit. For three years, the owner looked for figs, but there were none to be found. Finally, in frustration, the owner called the gardener and told him to cut the tree down. “Why should this tree go on using up good space and nutrients? It’s a waste of resources. Let’s get rid of it and plant another tree that will bear fruit.” The gardener was more patient. “Don’t cut it down just yet,” he said. “Give it just one more year. I will give it water, dig around it and fertilize it. Then we shall see if it will bear fruit. Give the tree another chance.”
On this Tuesday in Holy Week, perhaps we might reflect (in our thoughts, our Journal, our prayers) how we’re like the fig tree owner – more willing to write people off than give them ‘another chance’ – more ready to swing at the base of any trunk/person we don’t find to our liking – more ready to bring him/her crashing down to the ground by our negative thoughts, unkind comments, gossip, rather than give them ‘another chance’?
And not just “how” but, “how often.”
Some might say that those actions/reactions are part of our human nature. Perhaps so – initially . But do they have to be part of us forever? Do we have to be like the fig tree owner for the rest of our lives? Can we change? Do we want to change? Are we willing to change? If the answer to any of those questions is “I am open to changing” then we don’t have to be like the fig tree owner for the rest of our lives.
On this Tuesday in Holy Week, perhaps a particular rayer? “Creator, thank you for your constant presence in our lives. May you encourage us to be gentle with ourselves, and one another, in our words, our actions, our thoughts. May we choose to place the ax aside and nurture the tree so the production of the fruit of the Spirit (“for the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, thoughtfulness, gentleness, self control” – Galatians chapter 5) can be manifest in this world. May we remember that you continually give us ‘another chance’, and may we receive your encouragement to give others ‘another chance’. Amen.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Comments are most welcome. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ A Soulistry reflection on each day in Holy Week will be available in the “SoulistryChurchYear” group on Facebook and on the Soulistry blog (www.soulistry.com/blog). You are welcome to subscribe to the Soulistry reflections (www.soulistry.com) and as reflections are added, they will automatically come into your inbox.
Learning Some things are easy to learn. Some things are not so easy to learn Some days the learning is huge. Some days it is subtle.
Some days the learning is about … what I believe … who I am … things I need to work on. Some days the learning is about others who are hurtful or loving or kind or mean-spirited or generous or resentful or kind or angry or how gracious and compassionate people can be.
Some days the learning involves a new approach to technology, art, gardening, writing, music or even a new checkerboard move. Some days the learning is about politics, history, literature, religion, cultures, language. And some days it’s a combination of things.
Each night before I go to bed, I ask myself “What have you learned today?” Usually, the answer comes swiftly followed by a silent prayer of gratitude for the lesson.
But when a difficult moment happened and I experienced betrayal … a promise had been made … then broken … and then lied about … and it hurt … what did I learn from that?
The more I thought about it … the more I thought about it. And I found it difficult to forget … difficult to let it go … difficult to move on.
When I went to bed that night, I asked myself “What have you learned today?” But there was no answer and I didn’t sleep well that night. I got up in the wee hours, made a cup of crystal tea and in the stillness and asked the question again: “What have you learned today?”
The answer came quickly. “Forgiveness. You could have learned about the importance of forgiveness.”
I could have but … questions began to surface … was the individual apologetic? … was betrayal acknowledged? … did I want to forgive? I knew the honest answer was the same each time: “No.” and I could feel the hurt rising again. I knew I needed to review the questions again, so I began with the last question: “Do I want to forgive?”
*Want* to forgive?
When I experience betrayal or someone gossiping, making assumptions about my character, or experience cruelty, injustice, downright meanness, the word ‘forgiveness’ enters my thoughts and I try to move in that direction. But sometimes, it takes me a long time. A. Very. Long. Time.
I understand forgiveness to be integral in spiritual and personal growth, so I work on it. Not for the sake of the other, but for my sake. Maybe that’s why forgiveness is called soul-work.
It’s ‘work,’ alright. Hard work.
I wish forgiveness came easily. I wish I didn’t have to experience some lessons over and over and over again. And yet because I know that the end result can be personal growth, I persist.
Two situations this past year were challenging. One situation was two-part and the first part only took a few days for me to forgive. But then it happened again – the second part of the same situation with the same person who, once again, apologized and promised to not let it happen again. I found myself back in the lesson-mode again, trying to determine the advisability of trusting that person again and of trying to forgive. It took me a little longer but gratefully, I was able to forgive that person again.
But the second situation, took a long time to move into a state of forgiveness. A full year. 🙁
Eventually, I was able to forgive – not for the sake of the other, but for the sake of my own soul.
It’s true … learning about and then entering into a posture of forgiveness is soul work. And it’s worth it.
The snow is beginning to leave (hurray!). And this afternoon, these flowers began to surface in my back yard.
The promise of new life emerging in spite of the weather in spite of the pandemic in spite of political upheavals in spite of it being the Season of Lent in spite of what any of us is going through personally.
Deep within the winter snow the promise of new life!
May we not let anything deter us from this reality. Deep within the winter snow is new life – hope!
So-called ‘natural disasters’ (hurricanes, landslides, earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, fires); cancer, COVID, other medical diagnoses; a second impeachment trial after the take-over of the Capitol Building in the United States which many fear will not only lead to further civil unrest, but civil war; the pandemic, the isolation, the new strains; the financial implications … the anxiety seems unrelenting – and rising. What to do in the midst of experiencing fear that “gut-wrenching … can’t explain … keep-me-awake” type of fear?
I wish I had the definitive answer.
Sometimes … nothing we do seems to help. The feelings of helplessness, abandonment, lack of control overwhelm us. Our breathing becomes shallow. Our heart races. Our mind won’t stop thinking.
Sometimes, admitting our fear to ourself … to another … helps.
Sometimes, saying / thinking / whispering / praying the word ‘peace’ as we gently and slowly inhale and saying / thinking / whispering / praying the word ‘fear,’ as we exhale, can help.
Sometimes, creating something … in the kitchen, garden, shop, studio, on the computer, in our Journal … can help.
Sometimes, repeating Dame Julian of Norwich’s words: “All shall be well. All shall be well. And all manner of thing shall be well” can help. (and using our breath to say them … inhale and say “all shall be well”; exhale “all shall be well”; inhale “and all manner of thing”; exhale “shall be well.”
Knowing that somewhere in the world, someone is experiencing a spiritual oasis by meditating; inviting peace for others; sitting cross-legged and chanting; saying the Rosary; receiving Communion; reciting the Shema; praying the Daily Office; thinking / sending / praying / whispering good thoughts; holding those experiencing fear in their heart, mind and spirit … and I am comforted. Because of our common humanity, regardless of our religious or spiritual belief, I know that am not alone.
To all in the path of fury of Mother Nature the path of anger of human nature the path of the pandemic the path of politicians out of control the path of terrifying medical diagnoses the path of grief may you be comforted. You are not alone. It may feel like you are, but you are not because in some way, at some level, we are connected … connected by the intangible essence of compassion, empathy, prayer, love. … connected by our humanity.
It’s okay to admit our fear in spoken and written word. It’s okay to acknowledge in our language what our body, mind and spirit already know.
It’s not only okay to admit “I’m afraid,” it can be healing for admitting our fear can help move the fear out of the darkness.
May we be bold and courageous in fearful situations to open the door, be released from the power fear wields over us, so that it is no longer as strong as it was … even a moment before when fear was boxed-up inside us.
May we never be too afraid to begin the journey of healing and say “J’ai peur.” “I’m afraid.”
An experience with a friend yesterday provided a personal introduction to an 811 nurse, three Cowichan Valley paramedics and our local Emergency health care workers at Cowichan District Hospital. It was all good!
My friend woke with tightness in her chest, across her arms, feeling “unwell”, balance issues, nausea, extremely high blood pressure and hand tremors. I wanted her to go to the hospital but she said she was “fine.” She didn’t want me to call 911 but finally agreed that I could phone 811 (nurses hotline).
I had my friend on my landline and called 811 on my cell phone. While the wait was longer than anticipated, the nurse was gentle, respectful, professional, and asked my friend pointed questions. She wanted my friend to agree to let me call 911 (and advised her not go to hospital by car or even go downstairs to wait for the ambulance), but my friend disagreed. I asked the nurse to please repeat what she had just said and the nurse spoke quietly but directly again. My friend agreed.
It was a strange experience – holding two phones, but it worked! I hung up, drove to my friend’s home, opened it for the paramedics, told my friend that I was in the house as she waited upstairs in her favourite chair. The paramedics (3) were wonderful! Fully masked, they spoke directly to my friend – crouching down so they were eyeball to eyeball as she was in her chair. Soft spoken, reassuring, calm while doing the testing they needed to do, it was clear they were not only professional but compassionate. Once they gently got her on the stretcher, off they went to the hospital.
My friend is now back in her home, with gratitude for being so well-cared for in Emerg and on the ride to the hospital. She said she felt extremely well cared for – and safe.
In the midst of this pandemic, a senior who was beyond-stressed, unwell and frightened, experienced Cowichan Valley health care providers who each had “a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” That’s the definition of greatness, according to Martin Luther King Jr.
On this day that our American neighbours are marking Martin Luther King day, when so many are deeply concerned about Wednesday’s Inauguration of the next President/VP of the U.S., the increased COVID19 numbers and fewer available vaccines than predicted, it is good to know that there are people serving, selflessly, because they have “a heart full of grace … a soul generated by love.”
Thank you front line workers whoever you are and however you serve. You are models of greatness.
“Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve.You don’t have to have a college degree to serve.You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” <Martin Luther King Jr.>
Ms. Squirrel’s prayer as the wind howls, the rains pummel, the rivers and creeks rise, the power flickers, the animals hover together, the homeless seek shelter.
O Creator-of-us-all, I pray for the two-legged creatures who so foolishly ignore the signs that are all around signs which, if they aren’t acted upon, will result in even more damage to the environment in which we all live and more lives lost through the pandemic.
You-Who-Knows-The-Truth, I pray for those two-legged creatures who know the truth about the coronavirus, environment and climate change, and yet who choose to ignore it, so they can make even more money than they already have.
Holy-One-Who-Celebrates-Life, I pray for wisdom and compassion for all in the two-legged world so the spread of the pandemic will be stopped, the devastation of this planet we share with them and they and other creatures of yours will not come to an end.
Thee-Who-Loves-All-Creatures, I pray for unconditional love to move in the hearts of those two-legged creatures whose hearts are cold and whose minds are focused on selfish ways.