We find ourselves moving through what Christians know as Holy Week. It begins with Palm Sunday, which was last Sunday, and it culminates with Easter Sunday. On the way through the week we pass Good Friday, a mysterious Saturday between the crucifixion and, then, the resurrection of Jesus that Easter celebrates. It is a heavy-duty week for Christians. For other folks, it is just another week!
So for my Christian readers, I hope this week continues to have possibilities of being a “holy week” for you. It is worth thinking a bit about what holy week might mean. A number of things occur. One that occurs to me is that one ingredient necessary for it to be “holy” was that we need to take time. “Take Time to be Holy,” the classic hymn I remember singing when I was young, can become the theme song for the day. I am sure that holiness requires time.
Time is an interesting commodity. In the business world a commodity is anything that exists that people can sell. A commodity would be the same across the board among sellers. Corn, for instance, is a commodity. Corn is corn; it does not matter who is selling. We look for the cheapest price. We buy.
So in one sense, time is a commodity. Everyone in the world gets twenty-four hours every day---no more, no less. The real question, of course, is what one does with those twenty-four hours. We can spend some of them striving to be holy. Or we can devote the whole time to other affairs, which might be entirely secular or even profane. So during this Holy Week, Christians are encouraged to “take time to be holy.”
In addition to time, another practical guide for learning the art of the holy is to “pay attention.” Increasingly, it seems, we live in a world that pays little or no attention to the sacredness of our surroundings. Too many of us are oblivious to the sacred. Even the season of spring is the miraculous coming to life again of God’s good, sacred world. Holy Week is a good occasion for questions.
Sometimes, a good question is a great way to pay attention. For example, do I have a sense of the sacred? Where do I find the sacred in my life? Sometimes we find the sacred inside the church. But just as frequently, we find the sacred in other places---scattered here and there amidst the secularity of life. Interestingly, I routinely discover the sacred in my classroom. It pops out in deep encounters of students engaging the Spirit of God when they had not expected to meet and be met by that Spirit. Very often the sacred comes through our engagement with Nature.
We know that green is the color of spring. Green is the color of life springing back into the grass. Spring came early this year in my part of the world. One can take a drive and notice the vibrant green of the fields. We can watch the trees spring back to life with emerging leaves. Easter is all around us, if we but pay attention. Nature is in the throes of its own resurrection right before our eyes.
This leads us to say spirituality is the way to discover the life of Easter in what, otherwise, may be merely an experience in emptiness. To pursue the theme of spring, we read these words from Thomas Moore’s Care of the Soul. “Spirituality is seeded, germinates, sprouts and blossoms in the mundane. It is to be found and nurtured in the smallest of daily activities.” (p. 219) It is in the middle of the mundane---the worldly---that spirituality is found. And it was in the profanity of a murder---an execution---that God’s Spirit wrought the miracle of new life. Holy Week charts the movement from murder to miracle---from the awful to the awe-ful.
The discovery and nurture of this spirituality in this Easter season comes as we pay attention. Paying attention means we are alert. We are interested. We want to be engaged. We are willing to listen. We are willing to learn – to be open, to risk, to move.
I am not sure we know how to pay attention any more. I often see men and women driving around all insulated from the word with windows up. Sadly, I do it myself! Not only are we insulated, but also we are talking on phones as we drive along. How can we pay attention to a meaningful conversation, drive and enjoy God’s sacred world at once?
Easter means getting out of our “cars of life,” hanging up on the unimportant conversations in our lives, and opening our eyes to the sacred. Holy Week will bring us to Easter and that will bring us to new life.