April 10, 2022
Palm Sunday is a fitting day for reflection on the third “relinquishment” of the Welcoming Prayer, a prayer I have visited in the previous two blogs. It is also a fitting day for reflecting on our response to the ongoing Russian war in Ukraine and to any injustice that invites us to act, to “walk our talk.” The Welcoming Prayer is a contemplative practice in which we are invited to open our hands and hearts and “let go” of our desires for power and control, for affection, esteem, and approval, and today, for safety and security, perhaps the most difficult.
This prayer offers us a way of being. When we let go (or try to let go), we welcome the Spirit and make room for it to work within us, instead of clutching and clinging to all we believe to be important or essential which, in reality, is transitory illusion. This prayer welcomes us to put our faith and trust in something bigger than us and so is not an easy prayer.
“I relinquish my desire for safety and security. Welcome, welcome, welcome.”
Saints, heroes, and martyrs exist in many of the world religions, and in these people, we witness a letting go of what the world claims we must have in order to be worth anything. They face down what our spirits and souls know is wrong, unloving, and unjust. In my tradition, Jesus Christ is the prime example of relinquishment. On Palm Sunday, we recall how he rode into Jerusalem to the cheers of his followers and the waving of palm branches, but by the end of the week, he was dead, crucified by the occupying government (Rome) for speaking his Truth that challenged those in power, crucified for offering light, love, and inclusion instead of darkness, hatred, and repression. Christ relinquished his own safety and security, his very life, for a Higher Good.
“Who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross.…” Phil 2: 7-8.
Yesterday, April 9, was the anniversary of the martyrdom of 39 year-old German theologian and minister, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, imprisoned for his active work against Hitler and Nazism. After two years in prison, relinquishing his own safety and security, Bonhoeffer was transferred to Flossenburg concentration camp where, without jury or witnesses or legal aid, he was sentenced to death and hanged, one month before the arrival of the Allied Forces and the end of WWII.
“When a madman is tearing through the streets in a car, I can, as a pastor who happens to be on the scene, do more than merely console or bury those who have been run over. I must jump in front of the car and stop it.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer
The list goes on and on of those who have relinquished safety and security for a Higher Good: Mahatma Gandhi, Oscar Romero, the four religious women raped and murdered in El Salvador, Martin Luther King, Jr, the unidentified Chinese man who stepped in front of the tank in Tiananmen Square, etc, and etc, yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Now, we watch President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine relinquish his own safety and security to stand up against the Russian warmonger Putin, along with the Ukrainian soldiers who have relinquished loved ones, homes, security, and safety for a Higher Good, just as their wives/husbands and children have done. We can follow the war through the courage of Maia Mikhaluk who posts daily updates on Facebook about the reality and horror of living in a war-torn country, risking her own safety and security. We can hear (and heed) the words of Rev. John Burdin, a Russian Orthodox priest, who has ignored his own safety and security by speaking out against the war and Russia’s invasion.
“I don’t consider it possible to remain silent on this situation. It wasn’t about politics. It was about the Bible. … If I remain silent, I’m not a priest.” Rev. John Burdin
We need only glance at the news to witness the thousands of Russian people who have been fined, or worse, imprisoned for choosing to voice their dissent to this illegal, immoral, inhumane invasion, surrendering safety and security for Truth.
нет войне. нет войне.
No to war.
If we are engaged in the lives of others, in those across the world, we marvel, and we wonder. And we are welcomed to go deeper. In the silence of our hearts and our souls, we can ask the question: How much of my own safety and security am I willing to relinquish in order to act for the Higher Good, or, for those of us who are Christians, are we willing to follow Jesus Christ, or just worship him? Opportunities abound every single day to set aside our own comfort, safety, approval, security and esteem and face down the evil and unjust forces of this world. Do we have that courage? Do I? May it be so.
Walking with you ~ Rosemary
Whip. Spit. Thorns. Nails.
Noose. Rifles. Shot guns.
Poison. Rape. Murder.
Hard labor. Isolation.
Bombs. Tanks. Deprivation.
Isolation. Betrayal. Cut off.
The reaction to words that speak Truth.
The reprisal for words that demand Justice.
The program for words that Enlighten.
The fear of words that Reflect.
The consequence of words that set safety
to the wind
words that rise up against all that is shadow
darkness denial oppression repression
words that swallow lies
words that will not die
words that survive to nurture
the soil in a small rocky corner
of a field where a sunflower
lifts its yellow head,
a daffodil nods in the breeze.
© Rosemary McMahan
Image credit: Pixabay