The corporate world, medical sciences, even the health care industry, have research that suggest those engaged in mindfulness (e.g., meditation, yoga, spiritual practices) have significantly better physical and mental health, are more productive and vastly more creative. Still more, those who are intentional about taking time for quiet and stillness have an overall sense of well-being. It is curious to me that it seems the church is one of the more frenetic, activity-driven, stressful places. The focus on finding the right worship style or most “effective” programs or maintain the edgiest aphorism (missional, anyone?) robs our attention from what—Who—we claim to follow. Should not the church be the place that reflects to the world the revitalizing wellness that union with Christ brings? Undoubtedly there is no single method to live in such a way—so I am not certain why spiritual leaders attempt to impose (or seek) one. What I do know is that to live and grow in Christ-likeness is organic, communal—and, as such, complex, creative, alive. This week is a fitting time to discern what this means for me and for those in my community.
Each year during Holy Week we try to be mindful of what is going on each day according to the tradition of the Church. When Saturday arrived one of the first years we were especially attentive, one of my children asked, “where is Jesus today?” I responded, “well, he’s in hell, actually.” It seemed almost wrong to say, but, if what we believed happened as we understand it to have—“he descended into hell and on the third day. . .” then we must come to grips with this fact. Jesus, in this most profound mystery chose to be separated from who he is: a person of the Trinity. Jesus chose to separate himself from all that is good and righteous, all that is creative, created, all that is love. Jesus chose to do this so that we would not have to.
This year, for a myriad of reasons, we are unable to participate in some services distinctive to the sacred rhythms recognized during the week (Maundy Thursday, Good Friday). So, we are doing something new. On Saturday, when there are Easter egg hunts and preparations for the big meal the following day, we are going to sit Shiva for Jesus. To sit Shiva in the Jewish faith tradition is the time, following the death of a family member, others who are close to the family come to sit with the grieving person. Just to sit. Not offer condolences (what does one say, really?), not quote scripture, not try to bring cheer. Just sit and hold that person in regard, be present, be together in the grief. Gathering as a community is at the core of sitting Siva. So, on Saturday, we will sit together to reflect on this Person we love, perhaps share in some Celtic prayers that everyone is part of reading, meditate on the Stations of the Cross of Latin America, by Adolfo Pérez Esquivel of Argentina—because he loved us first and by death inaugurated even the possibility that we would Love and dwell therein.