As I’m sure for many also, this is one of the strangest Holy Weeks in my lifetime. My personal, painful circumstances as well as the effect of the pandemic on our world have worn me thin, and my heart is a little withdrawn and dispirited. I’m especially missing the gathering of my community this Thursday evening, tomorrow afternoon, Saturday night vigil, and Easter sunrise and lunch. However, it’s a reminder to me what we’ve always believed and practiced from the inception of our community–that we’re not defined by a meeting or by a meeting place. We really have taken that seriously over the last decade and a half that we’ve been out here in the desert. We’re defined by the lifestyle of stumbling along to follow Christ in the ancient prayer practices of solitude and hospitality. I especially will miss sharing the Eucharist in its physical elements with everyone. But that will make me more intentional in my solitude to see the Real Presence of Christ in the elements of my world—sand, sky, sun, wind, and emerging spring growth. It’s an invitation to deepen my experience of the creation around me as the living and mystical Body of Christ and as the infinitely nourishing and loving Sacrament.
My meditation and prayer are creating openings in my heart to connect the suffering of God on Good Friday with the catastrophic circumstances of our world right now. I see families huddled in hospital parking lots, unable to accompany their dying loved ones. They are the disciples who stood off and away, watching Jesus expire in agony. The nurses and doctors are the sacred women who stood vigil at the foot of the cross. The silence of the desert and the Passover moon rising are the stillness of Jesus’s entombment. The yuccas standing in tension against the ghostly night sky are the expectation of Holy Saturday. And that first glint of light on the desert horizon is the beginning of his Resurrection-and therefore, ours. So that’s what I’m doing with my sacred Three Days. I encourage you to allow the Paschal Mystery to awaken in whatever world in which you find yourself. Let our griefs meet one another and become a prayer. And let that prayer become a tangible hope. And let that hope become a healing for our wounded hearts and our fractured world.
During liturgical seasons—especially Lent and Easter, I’m usually on the lookout for a song that could serve as a “theme” for our life in community. Sometimes I don’t find one, but other times it seems to find us. One of our community members sent our community chat string a quote from Alicia Keys in her book, More Myself: My Journey. She saw it posted on Brené Brown’s page. “Nothing but uncertainty is certain. Circumstances come together, only to fall apart moments or months later. And then, in a flash, we must rise up and regain our footing. In the rearview mirror, I now see so clearly what escaped me then: It’s not that the ground underneath me was suddenly shifting; it’s that it is never still. That’s part of the work of my journey—getting comfortable with life’s groundlessness.” It takes a soul singer to communicate something this true to me. It speaks so deeply to the experience of death and resurrection (The Paschal Mystery) in my life. It meets me in that place in my soul where grief and hope merge. As a result of the posting of this quote, a couple of other members excitedly posted Alicia Keys’ song, “Underdog,” and said this song has been their prayer during this time. And now it’s our community’s “theme song” and prayer for this season. On the video, Alicia Keys offers the song as a prayer and she changed up the lyrics a bit for our current situation. Enjoy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzeK53VV1To
Tonight commemorates Jesus’ supper in the upper room in which he took bread and broke it calling it his body, and he took wine and offered it and called it his blood. Hidden in the bread and wine is an eternal mystery: When we participate in the meal (in faith), we are taking into ourselves the entire spiritual reality of the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus; and our life is now ‘hidden in Christ’ and we are united forever to the Paschal Mystery. Maybe you can’t gather for a formal giving of the sacrament. Maybe you would never even walk into a church. But the meal is offered to all in that the creation itself is the Body of Christ. Simply go outside tonight, look up at the sky and offer your empty hands in faith and make your prayer for your loved ones the same prayer for the world. And especially remember the underdogs.