In my last post, I said “We need to journey into and through the depths of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday to experience what Jesus’ dying and resurrected life mean for us, this year; now, and as we live into a new future transformed through God’s healing love . . .”
Here are a few more thoughts about how this time of Holy Week relates to some themes in the Prayer of Saint Francis:
Sadness and joy . . .
Before I moved to Fort Worth and became a chaplain at Harris Hospital, I was a chaplain at Wyler Children’s Hospital at the University of Chicago. Children and families came from all around the world for the latest, cutting-edge treatment. For some, modern medicine was their “last chance.” Sometimes that was not enough. More than once when I was with families and the care team, we were broken open by sadness . . .
But neither healing, joy nor resurrection is about being “in control” and “fixing.” In the midst of all the brokenness, we often find a sense of deep connection and hidden wholeness beneath the sadness. And through those difficult times, when surrounded in sacred love and held in quiet compassion, moments of joy can emerge from the depths and surprise us. There are no short-cuts, and it might take a long time. But deep, overwhelming sadness, can be transformed into new life and purpose. And that is the mystery . . . beyond words . . . of the miracle from the crucifixion to the resurrection.
But our culture regularly tempts us to try to run from unavoidable pain. And that is the deception of addictions of all sorts. (When I was a chaplain at the addictions treatment hospital at Harris, I was amazed at how many people, once they began to become sober, had to go back in time to grieve losses that they tried to escape in numbness years before.)
You may know Elizabeth Wills. She is a member of our church, who wrote this beautiful song about brokenness and of deep faith. I posted it earlier in Lent, but it is so fitting for Good Friday, here it is again . . .
Darkness and light . . .
I also learned through my experiences in the hospital (both as a cancer patient and as a chaplain), that some darkness lingered a long time. Sometimes we talk about depression and find appropriate treatment (and sometimes not.) But sometimes similar and equally as important, yet seldom addressed in our culture, is what wise Christians from the past such as Saint John of the Cross called “Dark Night of the Soul.” Parker Palmer, Richard Rohr, and others in our time are helping us to rediscover related ancient wisdom, when they talk of “the Contemplative Mind” (and what St. Paul probably meant when he wrote of “the Mind of Christ.”)
Here is a quote by Richard Rohr from Chapter 1 of his book Silent Compassion which we have been pondering as we have had conversations about what it might be to “be instruments of God’s peace:”
“Today, we are living in a marvelous time, a time when the contemplative mind is being rediscovered . . . there are many people whose souls still live in that silent, spacious, open place. And this is invariably the fruit of great love or great suffering, and usually both. This is the natural path and universally available path to contemplation for all people . . . Although the universally available paths are love and great suffering, conscious inner prayer will accelerate the path to contemplation and transformation.”
And as you prayerfully journey from Good Friday to the dawns of Easter, here is another powerful song by our own Elizabeth Wills.
Grace and peace to you throughout your journey . . .