Leaning Back for Holy Week

Image result for person leaning their head back

By Pastor Paula Burchill

Ever noticed how our bodies are so often sort of leaning forward?  Driving, pushing a shopping cart, washing dishes, working at a computer, texting, walking—our shoulders often slump forward like we are leaning into whatever we are doing, like we are taking control.

I was made aware of this in yoga as the teacher encouraged us to roll our shoulders back and be aware of our posture and how often without realizing it, we are slumping our shoulders forward.

This is Holy Week, and tomorrow begins a service that basically lasts three days.  On Maundy Thursday [Maundy means commandment] we experience the night Jesus was betrayed, and how he washed his disciples’ feet and gave them and us the Last Supper and how his command for us is that we love one another just has he has loved us.

Good Friday we hear the story of the death of Jesus and we leave in silence as we await being greeted with trumpets and flowers and an empty tomb on Easter Sunday.

This year, as I head into these services, rather than leaning forward and plowing through, I’m going to roll my shoulders back and open my heart to receive.

To receive the meal like the disciples did that night when they gathered with their best friend and were so full of fear and questions.  To receive the story of Jesus’ saving me on the cross.  To receive the joy that can only come after heartache and when things seem the most bleak.

Almost all the time in my life I’m leaning forward—getting things done and moving on to the next thing, but not this week.  This week, I’m going to take a deep breath, roll my shoulders back and lift my heart to receive Jesus.  I’m going to unclench my fists and open my hands to take in the story.  Because all the work has been done, and not by me.  Jesus died for me and for you, and all we can do is receive. What a blessing.

I leave you with a poem:


As swimmers dare
to lie face to the sky
and water bears them,
as hawks rest upon air
and air sustains them,
so would I learn to attain
free fall, and float
into Creator Spirit’s deep embrace,
knowing no effort earns
that all-surrounding grace.

Denise Levertov (1923–1997)


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