Not so Empty Tomb

Karla Flower

Usually I imagine myself watching from afar with the other women on the day Jesus was crucified and buried.  This year, I feel as if I’m in the tomb.  We don’t know much about day two of that weekend — Saturday — the Gospels all seem to leap from Friday to Sunday.  But we know it certainly wasn’t a busy day.  In fact, all activity had come to a screeching halt because it was the Sabbath.  On Friday Joseph of Arimathea had hurried to get the body to the tomb, burial preparations had been made and sabbath prep done, so by Saturday the women who were always busy suddenly weren’t.  So there was Jesus in the tomb, abandoned, cold, dead, buried and alone.  Stillness and fear pervaded that Sabbath.  But that doesn’t mean God wasn’t at work in the midst of that stillness.

This year so much has come to a screeching halt and life as we know it has ceased to exist.  We may feel helpless due to our inaction or inability to stop this global crisis, and may feel that time has either accelerated out of control or perhaps stopped altogether.  As we find ourselves entombed in places of isolation, aloneness, loss of livelihood, illness or despair over the loss of dear loved ones — let us remember that we are not left there alone.  God is at work even now.

Today in the stillness of Holy Saturday, let us draw a deep collective breath as we remember the words of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux,

“May today there be peace within.  May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be.  May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others.  May you use the gifts that you have received and pass on the love that has been given to you.  May you be content with yourself just the way you are.  Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.  It is there for each and every one of us.”

 Thank you, Little Flower.  For we know that this place is only for a brief time and that transformation is just around the corner.

A song for today, with gratitude to Ana Hernandez who shared her gift of music with us at the Marble Women’s retreat recently.  Here is her rendition of this powerful battle hymn to carry us through:

“Don’t be Afraid” is by Scottish composer/activist John Bell. Ana’s arrangement is available on iTunes and YouTube, and the album, Sending You Light, by Fran McKendree and Ana Hernandez, is available on iTunes, Spotify, Soundcloud, etc… and on Ana’s webstore here:

https://ana-hernandez-105676.square.site/product/sending-you-light-by-ana-hernandez-fran-mckendree/1?cs=true

By Karla Hendrick

It is Well with my Soul

For our Sunday musical reflection this week, we will be highlighting a favorite hymn of so many, “It is Well with my Soul.”  As we go through dark times in our lives, for many this hymn brings them calm and hope.  Today we share two beautiful versions of the song, one with voice and one with piano.

 

In 2009 Vicki Carter reached out to a close group of women friends asking they send the name of their favorite hymn. They did. I created a cd of my playing those hymns and each woman received the cd as a Christmas gift. Attached is my version of It is Well With My Soul on piano.

Here are the lyrics….

 

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well, with my soul

It is well
With my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul

It is well (it is well)
With my soul (with my soul)
It is well, it is well with my soul

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, o my soul

It is well (it is well)
With my soul (with my soul)
It is well, it is well with my soul

It is well (it is well)
With my soul (with my soul)
It is well, it is well with my soul

Shared by Vicki Carter

Hope

 

Hope Sun 1

I barely can sense it’s shiver of awakening.

But.

I stop in stillness,

Searching for the shimmer.

In a drawn down lip-line,

In a shallow breath,

In a tear-drop caught in its passage.

My consciousness whispers that it’s there.

My footsteps inch toward it.

It must be!

Because.

I hope for it.

By Susan Ceely Phillips

Hope Sun 2

 

Lord, Make us Instruments of Your Peace

For our Sunday musical reflection this week, I am sharing “Lord, Make us Instruments of Your Peace.”  This is based on the Prayer of Saint Francis (1181-1226).  As many of us in the world today are sheltering in place, our staying home is an Act of Peace.  We are saving lives by staying home.   You may not know this hymn by heart, but it is a song that can bring hope to all this Sunday.

Drakensberg Boys Choir singing Lord, Make us Instruments of Peace

Instruments of Peace by A capella Choir

The Sarah McLachlan School of Music singing the Prayer of St. Francis

The Prayer of Saint Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy

O Divine Master, grant that I may
Not so much seek to be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to Eternal Life
Amen

A Reflection: “What is Lent For?”

If in suffering you can no longer give thanks for God’s

goodness and have no taste for paradox, from where comes

succor if nothing’s real but whirl of pain and echo,

“Why am I forsaken?”

 

Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani  . . . .

What is the meaning of our brother’s ending cry of sorrow?

Was it despair that all hope is lost – there is no loving abba?

Or was his cry a lament to love itself, the living tissue binding

us all together?  Did he intend to point us past the sorrow

of the psalm he prayed and knew by heart to its ending praise

of ancient promise, remembered?

 

We will never stop these questions pouring from us.  Lent

remembers “the tears of all things” – lacrimae rerum,

a world of tears of seemingly blameless suffering; a world

God made and loves and sees as good, as it is written.

 

Lent remembers we will be stripped of our carefully constructed

meanings, certainties, illusions, even our consolations,

to our primal animal sorrow.  Lent reminds us, Momento mori,

remember your death.  But of what use is remembrance if it

cancels life and life’s meaning?

 

Of what use are the words of those who cared enough to leave

their psalmic response in dialogue with our bewildered questions?

Facing into suffering and death, a choir of voices of our

foremothers and foresisters pray that we remember love is not

concerned with sin but with the sanctuary within that remains

blameless and whole in God’s mothering.

 

Their psalm resounds in polyphonic harmony –

. . . in God without end . . . all is well and shall be

well and all manner of things shall be well . . .

. . . trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be . . .

. . . we must just be . . . as simple as the growing corn

or the falling rain.

 

Sr. Wanda, CSJ, responding to the question, joins the choir from

within her small apartment in a meadow to sing her single word

beautiful in simplicity – spring.  Word spoken stirs, wakens.

 

Lent simply is as the beauty of the lily simply is – mystery never

fully solved, question never fully answered within our human mortal

time.  Each must live and respond in her own way of seeing and

claiming fulfillment of love’s promise – tears of sorrow bringing forth

new life that from the beginning has always known our Easter name.

 

 

Notes

Woven into my narrative verse reflection are words of women to whom I return for spiritual companionship:  women who cared enough to take time to form in words what they learned as they lived the human story of sorrow and joy, Lent’s passion and suffering and mortality preceding Easter’s joy:  women who’ve shown me a face of God and a theology different than the theology I was early taught – a theology that was sourced more in judgment and blame than in a heart opened to the source of infinite good.  Julian of Norwich wrote Revelations of Divine Love in the 1300s during the plague of the Black Death.  Her words, “All is well and shall be well and all manner of things shall be well,” resound through the centuries.  They reflect her experience of God as our mother in infinite making, loving, caring.  St. Therese of Lisieux’s Story of a Soul, and her poems and prayers, record her “dark night” trial of faith. Though she died painfully of tuberculosis near the end of the 1800’s, she left us her prayer, “You must trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be.”  Etty Hillesum’s  An Interrupted Life is a compilation of her diaries and letters, a testament of her refusal to hate and rant against the Nazi regime that intended to annihilate every Jew as less than human.  Writing during the Holocaust of the 1930s and 1940s, she perished with her family at Auschwitz in 1943.  Spiritual director, Sr. Wanda, CSJ, lives in a small apartment duplex in a meadow.  When I meet with her, I like to think of her as one of the “spiritual mothers” (desert ammas) of the 4th and 5th centuries AD.  The living words of these women resonate.

 

Margie Dimoplon