Thank God Holy Week is not all in my head.

Yesterday we welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem. It seemed like a lot of people at my meeting really meant it when we shouted “Hosanna!” But I suspect others probably let their “mind” have the upper hand and didn’t engage their body at all or didn’t even come to the meeting, they just kept their “religion” in some private space in their head, so their love has yet to find expression. Even worse, maybe some other love was the object of their de facto worship.

No matter. It is another morning. And this week, in particular, is loaded with opportunities to live in the spirit of Anne Sexton’s poem:

Welcome Morning by Anne Sexton

There is joy
in all:
in the hair I brush each morning,
in the Cannon towel, newly washed,
that I rub my body with each morning,
in the chapel of eggs I cook
each morning,
in the outcry from the kettle
that heats my coffee
each morning,
in the spoon and the chair
that cry “hello there, Anne”
each morning,
in the godhead of the table
that I set my silver, plate, cup upon
each morning.

All this is God,
right here in my pea-green house
each morning
and I mean,
though often forget,
to give thanks,
to faint down by the kitchen table
in a prayer of rejoicing
as the holy birds at the kitchen window
peck into their marriage of seeds.

So while I think of it,
let me paint a thank-you on my palm
for this God, this laughter of the morning,
lest it go unspoken.

The Joy that isn’t shared, I’ve heard,
dies young.

circle of hope, church, churches, philly, philadelphia, south jersey, meaning, lent, social construct, justiceSo many of us have our faith stuck in a mental construct, arguing about principles in our head and fearing we don’t have it all right yet so we can’t commit. Others of us are trapped in a “worldview” that is a bit more human, but is still a philosophical construct by which we compare and contrast who we are with others and from which we draw a politically sanctioned identity, so we think sorting that out is about all the meaning we get.

In this holy week, the commemoration of Jesus’ last week, when history is offered a restart, we are invited to put our mental dialogue in its place and find joy in our own pea-green house, in our own bodies, walking alongside Jesus, who is God ennobling and redeeming our true selves as the author of creation and its restorer. Like him, for the joy set before us, we endure the cross.

If you have a mental faith, Holy Week probably seems like a lot of time spent on redundant material. If you are training your body to move with your loves, you may wake up, like Anne Sexton and say,

“So while I think of it,
let me paint a thank-you on my palm
for this God, this laughter of the morning,
lest it go unspoken.”

circle of hope, philly, philadelphia, south jersey, churches, love, hope, Jesus, Christian

On each day of the holy week we make a special, communal, concerted effort to “paint a thank-you on” our palms, and so get our bodies moving in the direction of our salvation. We move through darkness into light, not just in our thoughts or beliefs, but in our hearts and time with those we love in the creation we feel. And so we train our hearts for joy and open our days to grace. We are saved, not in theory, but in fact.

There will be words and thinking, of course, but, as I am prone to saying, “It does not really matter what happens, it matters that I did it.” What I do ends up being the liturgy of my loves. Thus Sexton’s poem is so profound because she realizes that even her breakfast is charged with God’s presence and should she fall on her knees by her table it would be an appropriate action that would unleash the joy stored up in the meal. How much more profound is the “breakfast” of Holy Week, as we kneel before our common table of grace and look forward to the joy of Easter morning: these birds, these seeds, this realization that I am welcomed into eternal joy, and this “God, this laughter of the morning!”

God help us, we do not coerce anyone to do what we plan as Circle of Hope, so I am not trying to get you to come to a meeting! We would not risk driving you into another bout with all the shoulds the mental overlords have caused you to resist as you rebel against their science and social construction. But we are offering a lot of ways to express your loves with people who love you. We do have a lot of ways, on this week especially, to cooperate with the reorientation of our desire towards true joy. Just coming to an observance might get the ball rolling or keep it rolling —  if you don’t just think about it, of course.

[Check out Circle of Hope Daily Prayer :: WIND or WATER for options each day: the gathering, on your own, in a cell or in the family]

Leave a Reply