Reading: Walk With Jesus, Chapter XV; Concluding Prayer (pages 91-98)
As we enter Holy Week, we are coming to the end of our Lenten Walk With Jesus inspired by the paintings of Sr. Helen David and guided by Henri Nouwen. Thanks to all of you who have walked along, whether you joined us for the entire journey or stopped by occasionally during Lent. During our time together we have reflected on the fourteen stations of Jesus’ passion, crucifixion, death, and burial–stories we will hear recounted throughout this most important week of the Christian year. This week we look ahead with wonder and awe to glorious culmination of the Gospel story, Jesus Rises from the Dead, that we celebrate on Easter Sunday and in the Easter season that follows.
During these weeks of Lent, we have met, suffered with, and been inspired by the poor and marginalized from around the world. By encountering them and learning their stories we have come to better understand our own struggles and pains. And as Henri and Sr. Helen David remind us, Jesus is always present to unite his suffering with the suffering of God’s children. Yet, the suffering is not the end of the story. As Henri writes this week, “Yes, there is sadness but gladness too. Yes, there is grief, but joy as well. Yes, there is fear, but also love. Yes, there is hard work but celebration follows. And, yes, there is death, but also resurrection.” (p. 93)
We are people of the resurrection. In Henri’s words, “All is different and all is the same to those who say ‘Yes’ to the news that is whispered through the ages from one end of the world to the other. . . All is the same, and all is made new . . . And so the smile of God and the smile of God’s people reach reach each other and become one in the undying light that shines in the darkness.” (p 95)
You are encouraged to look back and reflect on Henri’s and Sr. Helen David’s remarkable presentation of the Stations of the Cross. Was their uncommon approach helpful in your preparation for Easter? Did the contemporary stories of the poor and suffering help you to see Jesus as Emmanuel, God-with-us, active in our world today? Have you encountered people with challenges similar to those portrayed in Sr. Helen David’s paintings in your life? How did you respond? Finally, and most important, how have you been touched spiritually during our Lenten journey and how will your life be different or what changes will you make as a result? Please share your thoughts to the degree you are comfortable doing so.
One final time, thanks to all of you for your participation, whether you actively posted or journeyed in silence. It has been a privilege and a pleasure for me to be with you this Lent. May you and yours have a blessed and joyous Easter season.
May the Lord give you peace.
P. S. This Advent we are planning to discuss Following Jesus–Finding Our Way Home in an Age of Anxiety that will be published on September 17th. This brand-new, never before published work of inspiration, is based on a series of lectures Henri gave in the basement of a church while teaching at Harvard. Edited by Gabrielle Earnshaw, the founding archivist of Henri’s papers, this book offers a compelling case for why Christianity is still relevant, beautiful, intelligent, and necessary in the modern world. More information will be available later this year.