It is Palm Sunday or Passion Sunday, the first day of Holy Week, in the Christian tradition. I know that everyone has their own kind of relationship with this season whether it be one of indifference, one of deep meaning, one of pain from punitive and fear based theological perspectives of the events of the week, or something else entirely.
Whatever your relationship, I invite you to journey this week from a wisdom perspective. First of all, we can see Jesus walk out the path of kenosis (self-emptying) and conscious extravagant love he taught. We can allow ourselves to follow the path of dying before we die, a practice that is part of every wisdom stream, which involves not simply mistaking ourselves for our survival instincts and ego alone. Although these parts of ourselves are indeed needed to function amidst this horizontal plane we live in, we must find within ourselves that which is bigger than these parts and allow them to align within the whole rather than mistake them for the whole. This is not an act of violence toward our survival instincts and egoic operating system but rather a profound welcoming that calms them enough to quietly settle into the wider field of mercy and take their proper place. This is in itself an act of dying to self.
Second, we see this invitation to die to self does not happen in isolation but rather it happens with feminine steadfast love en-wombing the whole passage. Because of the traditional patriarchal narrative with the focus on Jesus’s male disciples, the story has often been portrayed such that Jesus died alone, betrayed by all. This view however is not the full picture. Over time we as humans have evolved just enough to be able to acknowledge the feminine parts of the narrative and a different picture emerges. There were several women present through Holy Week and three in particular that accompanied and beared witness to the events that transpired. Mary, the mother of Jesus, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene, the Apostle to the Apostles, were all there. The women stayed. They remained. They held their post with a fierce tender love. They courageously held vigil in their hearts. Their presence really does change the overall impression of the week reminding us that Jesus was not alone through the journey he accepted.
We all have the capacity to die before we die. We all have the capacity to en-womb. We all are invited to accompany and be accompanied by Jesus and the Marys this week. How might we approach Holy Week and our own path with these invitations in heart?
If you would like to journey through Holy Week with contemplative liturgies, please join us through Stillpoint each evening. The times and details can be found here as well as below. We are following the liturgies that Cynthia Bourgeault created which include Mary Magdalene accompanying Jesus. She held her heart open tethering him in abundant love as he traversed the center of the earth to welcome within himself all the fragmented parts that we may be Whole and full of Light!
May your mind be open.
May your heart be wide.
May your body be at ease.
May you re-member yourself.
Also, just a reminder that next month I will be facilitating the Introductory Wisdom School with video teachings from Cynthia Bourgeault but with a typical wisdom school rhythm. This is the one that has been postponed several times this past year because we wanted to do it in person. If this is something you are interested in, you can find more about it here. These wisdom schools are powerful and stabilizing as we attempt to live out Christ’s Kenotic path of Conscious Love.
Here are a some of the readings from this week:
'Prayer of Saint Francis' (with gestures from Cynthia Bourgeault)
Lord, Make me an instrument of your peace (arms folded over your chest, left over right).
Where there is hatred (left arm extended slightly upward), let me sow love (right hand extended slightly upward);
where there is injury (right arm back to chest), pardon (left arm back to chest);
where there is discord (left arm extended), union (right arm extended);
where there is doubt (right arm back), faith (left arm back);
where there is despair (left arm extended), hope (right arm extended);
where there is darkness (right arm back), light (left arm back);
where there is sadness (left arm extended), joy (right arm extended).
Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled (both arms draw in toward chest) as to console (both arms extend horizontally outward);
to be understood (both arms drawn in) as to understand (both arms extend outward);
to be loved (both arms draw in) as to love (both arms extend out).
For it is in giving (both arms come toward center with palms turned up as in gesture of giving), that we receive (hands draw in toward heart);
it is in pardoning (hands out, palms up) that we are pardoned (hands draw in toward heart);
and it is in dying (hands out, palms up) that we are born to eternal life (hands draw in toward heart).
“One gentle breath takes you on a
pilgrimage to the heart.
One gentle breath carries you across
the space between the sun and moon.
One exhalation sweeps away
the endless past, with all its stories
of Me and Mine.
One inhalation stirs the buried seed,
releases the sap,
bathes the earth in song.
The blues of the sky pour through you
and your body becomes
a crystal window
because you have wounded your chest
with this invitation:
"Come fill me, empty me,
drown me in the silence of your Name!"
O pilgrim, seeker, warrior of
wield this breath wisely.
It is a burning sword of love.”
— Alfred K LaMotte
“How do I move beyond “the mazes of the mind” and into a deeper wisdom knowing? The answer is simple, though perhaps not easy: through meditation. Meditation is one of the most ancient and universal of all spiritual practices, and it is the cornerstone of the wisdom encounter with Christ. You may already be familiar with the benefits of meditation in terms of relieving stress or relaxing the mind or the body, but its real value in terms of wisdom is to transform the way you think. Its immediate and obvious effect is to break the tyranny of your usual mind, with its constant compulsive thinking. Its underlying and far more powerful effect is to catapult you into a direct experience of being itself, unmediated by thinking, and to give you a strong taste of what heart perception actually feels like. Meditation is the tool you use to “upgrade your operating system,” to move from that “either/or” thinking of the binary mind into the more spacious heart awareness that sustains the wisdom way of knowing.”
“From a wisdom point of view, what we can we say about the passion? So much bad, manipulative, guilt-inducing theology has been based on it that it’s fair to wonder whether there is any hope of starting afresh. I believe wisdom does open up that possibility. The key lies in that idea, introduced in the last chapter, of reading Jesus’s life as a sacrament: a sacred mystery whose real purpose is not to arouse empathy but to create empowerment. [A sacrament does not merely symbolize a spiritual reality; it lives that reality into existence.] In other words, Jesus is not particularly interested in increasing either your guilt or your devotion, but rather, in deepening your personal capacity to make the passage into unitive life. If you’re willing to work with that wager, the passion begins to make sense in a whole new way.”
“The path Jesus did walk is precisely the one that would most fully unleash the transformative power of his teaching. It both modeled and consecrated the eye of the needle that each one of us must personally pass through in order to accomplish the “one thing necessary” here, according to his teaching: to die to self. I am not talking about literal crucifixion, of course, but I am talking about the literal laying down of our “life,” at least as we usually recognize it. Our only truly essential human task here, Jesus teaches, is to grow beyond the survival instinct of the animal brain and egoic operating system into the kenotic joy and generosity of full human personhood.”