Join us tonight at 12 Hills Nature Center to walk in the rain.
12 Hills Nature Center
This is an invitation to place your own story, in this wild field of a garden at this moment in time, into communion with a very old story that also takes place in a garden. The garden story of Maundy Thursday has a mystical and painful resonance – shaded by night, with people too sleepy or too acutely aware that darkness of another kind looms large. If you would like, walk this path and let your steps, breaths and thoughts carry you into a story told for two millennia, and consider the reverberations of this story in your life, particularly and also communally. For if Maundy Thursday is about anything at all, it is about living in the stark reality of relationship.
Begin by walking for about a minute, figuring out how long it takes for you to match your steps to your breath – allow your inhaling and your exhaling to become equal in length (for example, 3 steps to inhaling, 3 steps to exhaling). Allow yourself to settle into this cadence, taking in all of the speech around you that is beyond human language.
After a meal which celebrated loving God, each other and the dream of a just world, Jesus and his disciples went to a garden, a place they often gathered, to pray and wait.
Keeping your breath and steps evenly matched, journey down the path. Be present to the sacredness and the mystery of life, knowing that your story is part of this story and all others.
The stories tell us that Jesus was aware that suffering lay before him, and he was grieving and anxious.
Stop for a moment. You share the same emotions as Jesus of Nazareth, and small children, and Mohandas Gandhi, and inmates at the county jail. The same sort of skin and bones and blood cover and support your life, and the life of the more than 6 billion human beings currently on this planet.
Begin to walk again, allowing your breath, and steps, and even your grief and anxieties to connect you to the community of humanness, a fragility and finitude shared by all creatures.
He wanted those he loved dearly to keep him company while he cried and prayed.
Stop once more. Concentrate on your breath coming in and going out. Who are those whose company you hold dear in the midst of hardship? To who/what/where would you like to be more connected in those moments? Recall the people, ideas, and places firmly to your mind, and begin to walk again.
He asked that the suffering might pass from him.
Stop. Observe this place – grass, flowers, path, dirt, animals of all kinds. Many people disliked Jesus because of the things he said and did, and he knew he would suffer because of this. The life of Jesus
which we admire, emulate and worship was one that lead to suffering and death. What difficult things are you being called to in this season of life? All of life is connected, and your actions matter. Breath in this awareness, and remain still for a moment.As you are ready, begin mindfully walking again, matching your steps and your breath.
But it did not. His friends disappointed him and one betrayed him, and in the garden where he prayed often and likely found vision and inspiration in past times, he was wracked with sobs and felt the pain of the way forward.
Keep walking this path, listening to your breath, and the sounds of the world around you. This is a moment in the dark – sometimes they do not abate quickly, if at all. Good Friday is yet to come in this story – it is just about to begin. How do you make sense of this experience? Do you assign it cosmic purpose – Godʼs will? Or, the frustrating status quo – The injustice of those holding power in society? Or even – The fear swirling around the hearts of creatures who destroy as well as create and love?
Maybe all, or none of the above. Continue walking, paying attention to your breath and the sound of your feet connecting with the path. Some questions are better unanswered, perhaps.
Genny Rowley April 2011
Genny Rowley April 2011