by Chris Koellhoffer, IHM April 10, 2022
These days are rich with scenes lived large before us. In the Christian tradition, we’re on the edge of Holy Week and entering through the doorway of Palm Sunday. We may hold a fistful of palm branches and shout or sing our praise for the Holy One who appears to ride triumphantly into Jerusalem (Luke 19:28-40). And then, only a few breaths later, we may take on the role of the crowd, thirsting for the spectacle of capital punishment, demanding blood of that same Holy One (Luke 22:14-23:56). In the space of a few minutes, we may move from being joyful, prayerful celebrators to being people swept up in a mob mentality, mindlessly calling for an excruciating death. From the best of human nature to the shadow side of it, it all seems to come down to where we choose to stand and what we choose to voice.
These days we’re seeing the consequences of choice writ large in the ongoing invasion of Ukraine. Images that show the consequence of one person’s choices for cruelty, domination, and brutality are excruciating to watch. At the same time, as we view choices for courage, for compassion, for spaciousness of heart from Ukraine and the global community, we are offered hope and a tender perspective. We may squirm and want to turn away from watching the broadcast images of savagery because the difficult truth is this: as humbling as it is to acknowledge, the potential to live and act from our shadow side also exists within us. On the hopeful side, the potential to be a person of peace, of justice, of generosity exists in us at the same time.
Palm Sunday and the events of Holy Week invite us to reflect: Which path forward shall we choose? How shall we bear witness and be present to the crucifixion and the resurrection, both on display right now in our time and place?
The Holy One chooses to be present, not only during this week we call “holy,” but always. May we choose as the Holy One, the Suffering Servant, the one who empties himself in extravagant love, does. I leave you with this prayer, “Palm and Passion,” from Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light:
“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of God!”
And chooses so anyway.
He knows how fickle our love,
how fleeting our kindness.
We reject what we most deeply desire,
condemn what we most deeply need.
Our glory and our ruin both clamor.
Into that very wound he rides,
into the deepest divide of our souls.
On the Scorned Way—
into the scorn itself—he rides.
Into the choice between love and the way of the world,
and into our failure to choose well, he rides,
To prevail in the battle between good and evil,
between love and fear,
one must embrace them both
and enter the cleft
and still choose.
Worship the One
who embraces our beauty and our woundedness,
who forgives the failure of our worship.
Come with him on the Foolish Way,
the Way of Love,
…and fail… and be forgiven… and come again.
Sit in stillness with the Holy One.
You may want to place before you an image of the suffering of the human family or the pain or diminishment of any part of creation.
Simply hold that image in your consciousness.
Sit, breathe, and listen.
Then send your healing energy into the place of your attention.
Featured Image: Grant Whitty, Unsplash
As you hold in prayer our world that is both beautiful and broken, know that you are in my prayers of gratitude for the countless ways in which you breathe beauty and peace and compassion into this global space we share. May the blessings of Passover and Easter surround and sustain you in every choice you make.
Please remember in prayer my IHM Congregation, the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Scranton), as we hold our Chapter of Elections for new leadership April 21-23. Thank you.
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