Holy Week – Holy Ground – Holy Now

Rediscovering the Spiritual Practice of Holy Compassion

Last month, I spent a full week at my “alma mater” St Jude Children’s Research Hospital. I know I’ve mentioned St Jude many times before, but the heart of my calling is in that Holy Ground and my experiences of learning to prayerfully breathe through fear, pain, and the nearness of death.

It has been several years since I was there as part of their Long-Term Follow-Up research on survivors of childhood cancer. I’m now celebrating my 51st year since being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and am among the longest survivors in their 60-year history. Prayerfully remembering my soul story helps me to be more deeply grounded in gratitude, and know that life is a sacred gift.

Everywhere I went, I experienced connections with old and new patients, parents, staff, and visitors (including First Lady Jill Biden and Marlo Thomas.) In countless ways, we were immersed in powerful soul stories of brokenness and of being transformed with new hope, compassion, encouragement, and gratitude. Along the way, I have discovered and rediscovered within myself and with others, awareness of this deeper reality that starts in grace. It is a wiser and truer way that helps us courageously (that is, living from an open heart) let go of our fearful reactions. In that practice of letting go, we become more aware of God’s loving and compassionate Presence. And in that trusting awareness of God’s Presence, our relationship with Jesus deepens and we can hear more clearly God’s invitation for us to make compassionate, courageous, and creative responses in the midst of painful challenges.

As we let our ego fade away, (in a sense, die to the mind of Christ), we discover a new way of healing and resurrection. It was such a blessing to connect with so many people at St Jude’s in such a heartfelt, soulful community. It is truly Holy Ground. But when I say St Jude is Holy Ground, I don’t mean that to exclude the possibility that Holy Ground is everywhere. Paradoxically, though it can’t happen without the power of God’s loving grace, Holy Places and Holy Times largely depend on our inner awareness of God’s loving compassion. And our faithful response to God’s call can happen anytime and anywhere. Potentially, we realize that everything is Holy.

When we say this is Holy Week, we don’t mean to imply that every moment is not potentially Kairos or a Holy Moment. It’s all about being immersed in grace and the power of compassion throughout the year. We need to experience and be reminded over and again, that our ego must let go of control to allow our hearts to be broken open. (Lent is all about letting go fo our ego’s desires, and opening ourselves to the deeper desires of the soul we come to know through God’s love.) Through grace, we can awaken to the power of God’s presence in the Holy Spirit. Throughout our lives, pain and vulnerability, whenever and wherever suffering happens, is potentially an opening to the miraculous power of God’s Presence and loving compassion.

So now, as we move again through Holy Week, the most important days of our Christian calendar, we are called to join together to be immersed in Jesus’ soul stories and remember we are the Body of Christ. Every Holy Week and each Holy Day, we need to rediscover new spiritual practices and new ways our lifelong soul story shapes who we are at our deepest level… for the transformation of the world.

Here is a gentle, yet powerful song by Peter Mayer – “Holy Now.”

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