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HolyWeek-2015-5

Holy Week with the Existentialists: Maundy Thursday – Love & Despair

Maundy Thursday – Love & Despair
Mt. 26:17-46; Mk. 14:12-52; Lk.22:7-65; Jn. 13:1-30, 18:1-11

“The silence depressed me. It wasn’t the silence of silence. It was my own silence. I knew perfectly well the cars were making a noise, and the people in them and behind the lit windows of the buildings were making a noise, and the river was making a noise, but I couldn’t hear a thing.”
Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

“In the face of this terrible and merciless sacrifice offered up to Him, God has remained silent.”
Shūsaku Endō, Silence

 

Meditation – Make some space to think

Jesus was loved. He knew he was loved. No wonder he was the child of God; his mother and father told him so, treated him so, and his friends too! He lived for love.

Yet here in this moonlit garden, after a final tender moment dwelling in both love and encroaching fear, he was alone. The contrast of love and despair was overwhelming. He cries to God, looking for some answer, some meaning, some glimmer of hope. There is nothing, there is silence.

The taste of bread and wine still on his trembling lips, now stung by the salt of tears. He tries to find comfort in memory, (his beautiful friends), but the warmth of intimacy is now giving way to a hollowing ache… the aching ache.

He tries to form a prayer, so far from anyone to hear. The words begin, yet once again are devoured by the hungry night. The ache consumes him, overwhelms him; cold, silent, empty, nothing.

Somewhere beneath tiring limbs lay the dream he had lived for, already caught in currents of indifference, drifting in doubt.

He remembers the bond that was once so strong, the fragile reign of something better, is it too tender to survive the storm? Like his tears, his name and his story were already drifting into the cold night’s gloom. Yet the love remained. Somehow he felt that this isolation joined with the isolation of others.. those he had met, the women, the lepers, the outcasts, the betrayed. Somehow he felt closer to them than he had ever felt before. The isolation contained it’s own solidarity. He hoped .. one last time  for rescue… release… escape.. an answer to prayer. But there was nothing; no sound, no warmth; an empty space, an ache of silence.

The end of all endings.

He lets go…

Prayer

For those we know facing that same silence, the apparent indifference, and the isolation of despair; let us make spaces of solidarity.
Take time to pray, to think, to act, to weep.
Sometimes there really are no answers.
Only the ache of love.

HolyWeek-Album-2017

Music:

Magneto by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds      (Gary’s path)
Stuck in the Metal by Eagles of Death Metal      (Vincent’s path)

All Holy week posts can be found here


Welcome to this series of Lent Reflections.

These reflections can be used in conjunction with the second Lent Album,
One Day Like This’, which is intended to evoke both space and mood.

Existentialist thinkers were concerned with how it feels to be alive. An awareness that we are alive—in any situation—reinforces a sense of identity. What do moments in time give to our awareness of who we are, where we fit in the world, in our communities, in the universe?

Holy Week is the most vivid and emotional week of the Church calendar. In it we see Jesus and his followers going through extreme human emotions; celebration, hope, doubt, fear, friendship, betrayal, isolation and surprise—emotions that we all encounter through our lives. The sharp contours of our lives, struggles and joys all contain the touch of divinity.

These daily meditations invite you to reflect upon your moments in time and place. They remind us that extremities of human experience can make us feel fully alive or totally isolated. Yet in sharing our experience, we realise that we are not alone; there is solidarity in humanity, and solidarity with the very human Christ.

HolyWeek-2015-4b

Holy Week with the Existentialists: Wednesday – Betrayal

Wednesday – Betrayal
Mt. 26:14-16; Mk. 14:10-11; Lk.22:1-6

“Now I know I’ve got a heart, because it’s breaking.”
The Tin Man, The Wizard of Oz

“One should not underestimate the courage it takes to heal from a human betrayal. Betrayal invariably affects the psyche to its deepest roots. When it is made conscious, it is experienced as a threat to one’s own being, and the path toward healing is paved with pain.”
Diane Courineau Brutsche (Jungian Analyst)

“There is no betrayal more wounding than the betrayal of love. It touches us in our most vulnerable spot, that of the helpless child who is totally dependent on another. This child always emerges in any relationship where the possibility of trusting in another person exists.”
Jacqueline Wright (psychologist)

“Yet each man kills the thing he loves
By each let this be heard
Some do it with a bitter look
Some with a flattering word
The coward does it with a kiss
The brave man with a sword”
Oscar Wilde, The Ballad Of Reading Gaol

Meditation – Make some space to think

As he placed that final final kiss on Jesus’ cheek, Judas must have wondered how he ended up in this situation. His love for Jesus was certain, he’d followed him, listened to him, believed in him.. he was the one. Yet here he was handing him over to authorities, only now sensing the weight of inevitable tragedy that was about to unfold.
To love, and to betray… he had always imagined they were so far apart, yet now, in this gloomy garden he understood they were closely connected. The exposure to love and be loved walks closely to the cliff edge of loss, betrayel or misunderstanding.

Yet, what did Jesus feel? The horror of being betrayed is one of the worst experiences in life, it devours trust, re-writes history and story, it cuts deep into our sense of identity. How hollow did the kiss on his cheek feel, what emptiness was placed there? Pain becomes language-destroying.

To love God might mean to betray God, to sense the Judas within ourselves. Maybe it is inevitable. We say we love God but miss the call of the stranger; the outsider, the hungry, the homeless, the earth. Yet loving God is these things… To love God is to fail, and to still love, and to know love.

But there is more.. maybe to love God is to lose God anyway; the images, the codes, the practices we have built up around God. As we empty ourselves of the expectation we contain God within, we ask are we really betraying God, or the imagination of what we think God is about? Did Judas betray, or obey?

And finally, can that emptiness be given by God to us… or the experience of it. What if God lets us down? Are we betrayed by God or our own expectations? The Psalm writers wrestled with God, argued with God, challenged God to be God. What is the authentic engagement with God in the situation of a harsh landscape?

Prayer

In silence think about these issues. Allow your prayers or your silence to hold you safely and then brush close to the past; but not too close. Be kind to yourself, keep a safe distance and observe yourself. Allow the space to reflect. Be honest to yourself and to God.

HolyWeek-Album-2017

Music:

Undertow by Warpaint      (Gary’s path)
Bros by Wolf Alice      (Vincent’s path)

All Holy week posts can be found here


Welcome to this series of Lent Reflections.

These reflections can be used in conjunction with the second Lent Album,
One Day Like This’, which is intended to evoke both space and mood.

Existentialist thinkers were concerned with how it feels to be alive. An awareness that we are alive—in any situation—reinforces a sense of identity. What do moments in time give to our awareness of who we are, where we fit in the world, in our communities, in the universe?

Holy Week is the most vivid and emotional week of the Church calendar. In it we see Jesus and his followers going through extreme human emotions; celebration, hope, doubt, fear, friendship, betrayal, isolation and surprise—emotions that we all encounter through our lives. The sharp contours of our lives, struggles and joys all contain the touch of divinity.

These daily meditations invite you to reflect upon your moments in time and place. They remind us that extremities of human experience can make us feel fully alive or totally isolated. Yet in sharing our experience, we realise that we are not alone; there is solidarity in humanity, and solidarity with the very human Christ.

HolyWeek-2015-1

Holy Week with the Existentialists – Palm Sunday

Welcome to this series of Lent Reflections.

These reflections can be used in conjunction with the second Lent Album,
One Day Like This’, which is intended to evoke both space and mood.

Existentialist thinkers were concerned with how it feels to be alive. An awareness that we are alive—in any situation—reinforces a sense of identity. What do moments in time give to our awareness of who we are, where we fit in the world, in our communities, in the universe?

Holy Week is the most vivid and emotional week of the Church calendar. In it we see Jesus and his followers going through extreme human emotions; celebration, hope, doubt, fear, friendship, betrayal, isolation and surprise—emotions that we all encounter through our lives. The sharp contours of our lives, struggles and joys all contain the touch of divinity.

These daily meditations invite you to reflect upon your moments in time and place. They remind us that extremities of human experience can make us feel fully alive or totally isolated. Yet in sharing our experience, we realise that we are not alone; there is solidarity in humanity, and solidarity with the very human Christ.

 



Palm Sunday – Hope & Expectation
Mt. 21:1-11; Mk. 11:1-11; Lk. 19:28-44; Jn. 12:12-19

“… When I am moved by a painting or by music, by clouds passing in a clear night sky, by the soughing of pines in early spring, I feel the distance between me and art and nature dissolve to some degree, and I feel at ease. I then feel that there is, briefly, no past and no future, and I am content… And when I think of someone I really care for, I feel an exchange of understanding and acceptance that is the measure of love. This is how the saints feel about God. . .”

Ralph Harper, On Presence

 

Meditation – Make some space to think

Some people speak of ‘flow’ to describe when we are working, or thinking, or acting in a way that is productive yet totally natural. We almost can forget we are even doing it! Flow is allowing ourselves to be carried by a moment.

“Be Bold, Be Beautiful, Free, Totally, Unlimited”

When did you last feel that you were doing something good, productive, creative? Were others in support of you? Examine the feelings of that moment.

Prayer

Allow your thoughts and prayers to dwell on these suggestions and moods.
As you are moved, let your prayers be guided by these; pray for the world, your community, and those you know.

HolyWeek-Album-2017

Music:
Low Burn by Underworld      (Gary’s path)
Second Life Replay by The Soundtrack of Our Lives      (Vincent’s path)

All Holy week posts can be found here;