I’ve always been much more of a Advent/Christmas Christian than a Lent/ Easter one. The waiting in the darkness of Advent, the Incarnation – God breaking into the universe – what a trip! The whole lent/Easter thing: much harder for me. For most of my life, all it took was for me to hear “take up your cross,” and I’m heading for the hills. I don’t want to be weighed down with suffering and sorrow, I don’t like to think of Jesus that way either.
Last Saturday, some of us gathered here at All Saints to do Tonglen prayer together – Tonglen is a Buddhist meditation practice in which we breathe in suffering and breath out healing light and joy. In one of the meditations we did, we drew suffering from another being, formed it into an olive sized ball that hovered in front of our face, drew it in thorough our nostrils, down our throat, to our heart, where a flame that we’d ignited destroyed that ball of suffering, turned it into light, and we sent that healing out, up our throat, out our nose and every pore of our being. That’s the very short condensed version.
In another meditation we breathed in all the pains, anxieties and fears of the world, the suffering of those in physical or emotional pain, the suffering caused by economic injustice and systemic racism. In the midst of our meditation it hit me: when we bring in suffering through our breath, when we inhale the pain of the world, we don’t hold onto it – we transform it and once transformed, we send it out as joy. I think that’s the transformation that Jesus taught also, in his words and by his life – that to take up the cross is not to carry it for the rest of time, but to take it up, transform it, and spread healing into the world.
And so, having breathed out, healing or light or love, it’s then our calling to go out and change all that is causing that suffering and pain in the world – it’s not enough to send out light and healing, although that is no small thing. At a time when children are terrified to go to school because they don’t know if their parents will be taken away while they are gone, when our leadership is seriously discussing separating mothers from children at the border, when the Attorney General is saying that Black Lives don’t matter by restricting voter rights and dropping civil rights lawsuits and police oversight, when tens of millions are at risk to lose their health insurance, when the outrage of the Flint water crisis is not only being ignored but will be reproduced in countless other cities, when all of creation is threatened by climate change denial and changes in water and air policy, we have to be vigilant and resolved and fierce and fearless.
We will gather again this Saturday, March 18 at 9am in the Guild Room, to do Tonglen.
If you need a little help in taking up your cross, you are welcome to join us. No experience or training necessary – just a desire for some silence, some community, and some healing.
Today’s Daily Lenten Meditation is by Christina Honchell, Parish Administrator. Watch for daily postings from All Saints Church as we take the forty day journey to Easter together.