As we come into Easter in the Year of Pandemic, I encourage entering Sunday morning in the dark and watching the sunrise wherever we are. If early morning kills your spirit, as it does for many, some walking and breathing and noticing of signs of life, death and new life on Easter will ground us. Listen deeply. Share what you notice if you wish.
To enter most deeply into the darkness, begin on Saturday night. Fellow Wisdom Compatriot, Bri Stoner of Grand Rapids, MI, has created a series of rituals for her family for Holy Week. On Saturday evening she invites us to tether ourselves to Jesus as Mary Magdalene does, from the foot of the cross through the burial and the dark day and night of death. GO TO BRI’S BLOG FOR FULL REFLECTIONS ON HOLY SATURDAY AND ALL OF HOLY WEEK:
By Gabrielle Stoner – a plan for families with children that will work for anyone
Here are some excerpts:
Don’t be afraid to suffer; return
that heaviness to the earth’s own weight;
heavy are the mountains, heavy the seas.
Even the small trees you planted as children
have long since become too heavy; you could not
carry them now. But the winds…But the spaces….
Then, we continue by reading Matthew 27:55–61:
Many women were there, watching from a distance, the same women who had followed Jesus from Galilee and looked after him. Among them were Mary of Magdala, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.
When it was evening, there came a rich man of Arimathea, called Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate thereupon ordered it to be handed over. So, Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean shroud, and put it in his own new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock. He then rolled a large stone across the entrance of the tomb and went away. Now Mary of Magdala and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.
…We talk about how death is a part of life, how many times in our lives we go through periods of fear, doubt, uncertainty. The disciples didn’t know what was going to happen and were very sad and very afraid. We don’t like feeling that way, so we often run and hide like most of the disciples did…we turn our faces away from those uncomfortable feelings.
But Mary Magdalene didn’t run: she stayed with Jesus, she stayed at the tomb, and she shows us that having the courage to face our grief is part of what leads to new life…and that if we skip the hard stuff, we might miss the gift that new life will bring us.
In a way, during those hard times, we join Jesus in the descent into darkness…and Mary shows us that even when we are going down into our grief or difficult feelings, there’s always a tether of love holding us.
…I blow out the candle.
It’s funny how unaccustomed to sitting in total darkness we actually are in the West…
To close we sing this beautiful Quaker hymn by Paulette Meier. You may think initially that this chant is too wordy or complex for kids, but Søren used to sing along to it even jumbling the words at age five…and I believe wisdom like this is absorbed by the soul even if the words don’t all register.
Art thou in darkness? Mind it not, for if thou dost it will feed thee more. But stand still, and act not, and wait in patience, till Light arises out of Darkness and leads thee. ~ James Nayler (1659)