Hopefully the rainy weekend provided space to catch up on life and rest. Here are a few ideas picked up from people and stories over the past week, some of which I’ve morphed for our context, and want to share. For Christians, we are entering Holy Week which can me an intense time personally, spiritually, and for clergy, professionally. Let’s be curious about ways we can dig deeper, even while scaling back. Here are some thoughts and ideas along the way:
Laying Down our Burdens: I was involved in a community storytelling event last week and one of the storytellers recalled a practice she used during a particularly stressful time in her life. While studying Hezekiah in Bible Study Fellowship, they discussed Hezekiah’s action after receiving an alarming message from the Assyrian King (sort of reminds me of our current news cycle). He went into the temple and “spread the letter before God.” Try releasing anxiety this week by writing down the troubles of our heart, our homes, and our communities in a letter to God, then find a way that feels right to you to lay it at God’s feet. Our storyteller said she folded the letter, put it in an envelope, and laid it at the foot of her bed. Free writing can be an excellent way to extract worry from our head, hearts and bodies. Find a way, letter or no letter, to manifest physically what it means to lay this burden of anxiety down and practice surrender.
Starting The Week: A few take-aways from last week’s call are rolling into practices this week. First was the creative ways that churches are engaging the use of the USPS to get materials, ideas, and inspiration to their congregants, regardless of their technological capacity. On the call we lamented that for many of us it was too late to organize and get materials into the hands of folks by Easter, but reminded one another that Eastertide is actually 50 days in our liturgical calendar. We place much emphasis on the Easter feast, but realistically, the celebration is just beginning! Let’s be compassionate with ourselves and remember that Easter ideas can be shared throughout the Easter season. That’s what I’m doing with my family’s Palm Monday project. A few years ago I got one of these gorgeous and delicate palm crosses from someone on a roadside, and though I don’t think I’ll achieve that level of artistry, I’m planning to braid or tie a few fronds together with my kids tomorrow to hang above our door. Of course it would have been great to do on Palm Sunday, but the best laid plans…
On Friday we’ll attach a black ribbon or cloth as a way of discussing Good Friday, and Sunday morning we’ll switch our fabric swath to white.
Something we can do together, apart: We’ll all be missing our familiar houses of worship and/or Easter Vigils this year, but one way to bring the church into our homes is to commit to setting up a home altar for the weekend or the coming weeks, many of which may be difficult. I set up this small altar in my home last spring when going through a particularly difficult time. It’s got a penny that I associate with a deceased friend, some rosemary, a rose quartz, an ammonite, and a tiny triptych brought back from Lourdes by my aunt while she battled ALS. I erected it by my sink so I could look at it while I do dishes (I do a lot of dishes) during a time when I needed to remember God’s promise to heal and make whole. If you decide to take part, or any folks from your church join in, consider using a media hashtag and encouraging people to post so you can all see or read about each other’s altars. For folks not connected to the internet, give them time to set up and then have another congregant call them and listen while they explain what they placed there and why, then trade off sharing.
Memorization/meditation: Memorizing scripture with my 6 yr old ACTUALLY WORKED last week and we both came away one verse richer. Can’t say I managed the poem but here’s to #aspirations. Below is another verse and poem for you to wrap your sweet brains around and flex.
This week’s verse: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” (Isaiah 43:1)
This week’s poem: “Beannacht/Blessing” by John O’Donohue
As a send-off, or perhaps an abbreviated memorization option, I’ve included a lovely excerpt from this week’s poem by John. May your week be guided by light!
May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.