Poems and Prayers for Lent 14

In the Christian year this week is called Holy Week. Beginning with Palm Sunday, it leads us through the final days of Jesus’ life (and death) including the shadows of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, and the sheer darkness of Holy Saturday.

Frankly, to claim anything as ‘holy’ is an audacious move. But if there’s a week that warrants it, this one is it. For the ‘religious professional’, the designation of a particular week as somehow holier than others certainly raises the stakes. I can’t help but feel the weight of responsibility to make every holy moment count; for every service I offer to be nothing short of profound for everyone present.

Trouble is, I get so caught up in ‘making it happen’ for others that I have little energy left to live in that holiness myself. Early this morning I lay awake waiting for the alarm to go off, feeling both the anxiety of my responsibility and the marked absence of feeling.

As usual, someone else is able to name what I do feel better than I can name it myself.  Michel Quoist’s prayer, Before you Lord, captures part of what I would really want to say to God if I could:

To shut the eyes of my body,
To shut the eyes of my soul,
And be still and silent,
To expose myself to you who are there, exposed to me.
To be there before you, the Eternal Presence.

I am willing to feel nothing, Lord,
to see nothing,
to hear nothing.

Empty of all ideas,
of all images,
In the darkness.
Here I am simply,
To meet you without obstacles,
In the silence of faith,
Before you, Lord.

But, Lord, I am not alone
I can no longer be alone.
I am a crowd, Lord,
For men live within me.
I have met them.
They have come in,
They have settled down,
They have worried me,
They have tormented me,
They have devoured me.
And I have allowed it, Lord, that they might be nourished and refreshed.
I bring them to you, too, as I come before you.
I exposed them to you in exposing myself to you.
Here I am,
Here they are,
Before you, Lord.

Michel Quoist, Prayers of Life (Dublin: Gill & Son), English translation 1963, 113.

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