For Christians, today is Palm Sunday, the beginning of a time revered as the holiest week of the year. Why? In celebrating the suffering and death of Christ this week, we’re reminded of the divine power in suffering to do great things in us. The worst of times can bring out our best selves as we discover holy spirits in us – like patience, acceptance, and compassion – that live forever. This week is the holiest week of the year because it reminds us that divine love never dies.
For me, it’s also a quieter week that tends more completely toward solitude and prayer. This is the holiest week of my year too, especially now.
I just returned from two weeks caring for a best friend whose body has been suffering multiple myeloma for ten miraculous years. We reached another turning point this spring, deepening the experience of how powerful the mystery of suffering is for us now, and how divinely loving it is to lay down our lives for our friends.
One of the most divine interventions of those days was being given a soul-stuffed book of “Unitarian Prayers” by two angels on a day when I really needed a good one. I opened the equally soul-worn book to page 43 and found this prayer “For Healing after Pain;” a prayer about what makes this week so holy:
O God our undying hope, we thank you for the warmth which steals back
into our hearts after a while; for the healing which comes to wounded
bodies and spirits through time;
for the blessed fact that the flood of pain does not last forever, and for the
incredible bliss when the tide begins to ebb;
for the cheerfulness which breaks into our dark dungeon and strikes off our
fetters when least expected, we know not how;
for the strange sadness which haunts our brightest hours because our hearts
are made for a joy deeper than happiness;
for the insurgent courage which lifts its head above past mistakes and woes,
and affirms its right to try again;
for the way in which old quarrels often become forgetful, and afford us the
opportunity of being calm and compassionate;
for the golden thread of valor and good will never quite lost in the tragic
wanderings of peoples and nations;
for the labors of those who have sown that others may reap;
for the dear kindness of those who see us as we once were.
We thank you, God of our little faith, our greater hope, and above all our
faltering love, which can never fail because it is more yours than ours,
Vivian Pomeroy (1883-1961)
New Prayers in Old Places
Until next week, I wish you the holiest week of the year.
Karol Jackowski, Ph.D., became a nun in 1964. She's also been a college administrator, graduate of New York University, manager of a toy store, author of eight books, painter of religious folk art, and sister to everyone she meets. Please visit her website at KarolJackowski.com.