from the SALT Lenten project: God of gladness and hope against hope, give us the strength to celebrate and the courage to look ahead with joyful anticipation

The color designated from the panoply of Matisse’s palette for Holy Week is Red! The meditation guide assigns both excitement and suffering to this color. As I live into this week, I am sensing even more emotions on this roller coaster of a week. Yesterday there was a Palm Sunday parade in church all over the world. Children of all sizes waved palm branches and sang. And then this morning a long time friend died, expected, but still leaving a gaping hole in the fabric of the lives that loved her.

The saga of Holy Week has so much emotional energy that fluctuates and careens around our bodies and spirit that it can leave us reeling. Anxiety and deep fear blanketed the atmosphere in old Jerusalem, and does so there today, as well as here in our country right now, as we wait to see what blows might fall, what riots could break out, what fresh new hell is unleashed. There is anger and discontent everywhere. Yet there are moments of sweet connection and intimacy, sharing hearts, ideas and points of view, bring closeness and affirmation. We continue there lament and grief of Lent, as we see so much cruelty, injustice and callowness poured out on those with no protection, no resources and no recourse. And we mourn the deep losses of those who have died with the gaping holes they leave in our lives.

There is a part of me that wished that I could ignore all the drama, hibernate or sail away until there is calm and quiet once again. Yet I know that this drama, and what it means, is the Truth about the human life on this earth and the way the Holy enters into it. My tradition affirms in its Confessions that “In life and in death we belong to God.”

So I wear Red to remind me his week that nothing can separate me from the love of God–not the deaths of those I love or do not know, not the new lives emerging all around me, not the angels who can bring holy presence to places I can’t reach, not the demons that plague hearts and minds, (especially mine!), not the quotidian minutes in which I live, nor the unknown future that frightens me, not any venal powers that seem to be in control for the moment, nor the wildest ecstatic joy, nor the Slough of Despond; nothing in the circumference of my life or the life of the world can take me away from Holy Presence, seen so clearly in the life of Jesus. I can be present to each intense emotion and energy, my own and that of others, and I can stay centered and grounded in the Love that will not let me go. It is the blessing of Holy Week for me.