For Lent, we are using the book, The Art of Lent: A Painting a Day From Ash Wednesday to Easter, by Sister Wendy Beckett. This week, Holy Week, the theme is Love. Our meditation for Good Friday is entitled, “Passionate Sacrifice,” and the focus of our attention will be on the painting, Crucifixion, 2008, Craigie Aitchison. The image is included in the post for this podcast, and accompanies the places where this is posted. If you do not have access to the photo, but do have access to internet, you can google “Crucifixion, 2008, Craigie Aitchison.”
How can Good Friday instruct us in this isolation of a lockdown? Jesus’ spoke the final words, It is finished, bowed his head and gave up his spirit. This can also be translated, He handed over the Holy Spirit.
For today’s meditation, take a few moments to slow your breathing
Inhale through your nose, noticing the coolness draw inward;
exhale through your mouth, listen to the air pass between your lips.
Consider what it means that Jesus gave up his spirit – breath, ruah.
Jesus breathed out his last embodied breath into the very air we breathe.
How does this change the way in which you experience your breath?
Pay attention to your reaction.
Sit with these thoughts and notice them drawing to the center.
Breathe in the Spirit who knows our thoughts.
Breathe out the anxious thoughts that distract.
Breathe in acknowledgement of mystery.
As you breathe out, yield to unknowing.
Continue breathing in and out, allow the Spirit to bring your attention to Jesus, on this Good Friday.
Pay attention to God’s invitation to be present.
Settle into the peace of Christ as you listen. Hear the mediation and notice what the spirit of God draws your attention to in this painting. What is Jesus speaking to you here, now?
“In art, there are few crucifixions that stress the inner truth of Jesus’ death …. not what the crucifixion looked like, but what it truly meant.”Sister Wendy Beckett, The Art of Lent
Jesus bowed his head and, said a different way, He handed over the Holy Spirit. For Aitchison, the Spirit is skeletal on first leaving Jesus’ body. Bereft of the flesh that was from God and was God, human flesh suffused by the Spirit of God – every cell, each atom, enlivening undetectable quarks –
This sacred flesh that needed to do miraculous, mysterious work –
the work of saturating the earth with his blood and waters,
inhabiting the cold rock 3 days’ time,
before reuniting, resurrected to wholeness again;
The Holy Spirit bereft of flesh, flesh we all inhabit, embody
This Spirit given away, handed over,
a betrayal of God’s very Self
an enigma, how are we to understand?! That God, Source of everything,
would tear out God’s own spirit, separate
only to enter that space that God could never go:
out of God’s own presence
For me – who daily, hourly, heck most moments, will choose to function
as if God is not present.
Jesus’ flesh, ablaze with the fire of Love,
set even the already burning stars on fire
The earth consuming, death absorbing, Jesus’ flesh disseminating
even the air that I breathe. Now.
What does this day mean to you, for you?
May you choose presence this timeless space, Good Friday, and by grace, may you remain in the blaze of love’s fire.