• Eirenicole

Sitting Shiva at the Tomb

Sitting Shiva at the Tomb 150 150 Nicole
English: Christ washing the feet of the Apostl...

English: Christ washing the feet of the Apostles. Icon of Pskov school. Русский: Омовение ног (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The corporate world, medical sciences, even the health care industry, have research that suggest those engaged in mindfulness (e.g., meditation, yoga, spiritual practices) have significantly better physical and mental health, are more productive and vastly more creative. Still more, those who are intentional about taking time for quiet and stillness have an overall sense of well-being. It is curious to me that it seems the church is one of the more frenetic, activity-driven, stressful places. The focus on finding the right worship style or most “effective” programs or maintain the edgiest aphorism (missional, anyone?) robs our attention from what—Who—we claim to follow. Should not the church be the place that reflects to the world the revitalizing wellness that union with Christ brings? Undoubtedly there is no single method to live in such a way—so I am not certain why spiritual leaders attempt to impose (or seek) one. What I do know is that to live and grow in Christ-likeness is organic, communal—and, as such, complex, creative, alive. This week is a fitting time to discern what this means for me and for those in my community.


Each year during Holy Week we try to be mindful of what is going on each day according to the tradition of the Church. When Saturday arrived one of the first years we were especially attentive, one of my children asked, “where is Jesus today?” I responded, “well, he’s in hell, actually.” It seemed almost wrong to say, but, if what we believed happened as we understand it to have—“he descended into hell and on the third day. . .” then we must come to grips with this fact. Jesus, in this most profound mystery chose to be separated from who he is: a person of the Trinity. Jesus chose to separate himself from all that is good and righteous, all that is creative, created, all that is love. Jesus chose to do this so that we would not have to.


This year, for a myriad of reasons, we are unable to participate in some services distinctive to the sacred rhythms recognized during the week (Maundy Thursday, Good Friday). So, we are doing something new. On Saturday, when there are Easter egg hunts and preparations for the big meal the following day, we are going to sit Shiva for Jesus. To sit Shiva in the Jewish faith tradition is the time, following the death of a family member, others who are close to the family come to sit with the grieving person. Just to sit. Not offer condolences (what does one say, really?), not quote scripture, not try to bring cheer. Just sit and hold that person in regard, be present, be together in the grief. Gathering as a community is at the core of sitting Siva. So, on Saturday, we will sit together to reflect on this Person we love, perhaps share in some Celtic prayers that everyone is part of reading, meditate on the Stations of the Cross of Latin America, by Adolfo Pérez Esquivel of Argentina—because he loved us first and by death inaugurated even the possibility that we would Love and dwell therein.


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  • Michele McGovern March 28, 2013 at 5:12 am

    I absolutely love this.

  • Can’t wait! We doing this at 5pm?

    • I can’t wait, either! We need to talk 😮 I’ve been saying noon for this, but let’s discuss! I’ve been praying over this–really sense God is doing something significant here…. I’m so thankful for the resources we have (as mentioned above) and the beautiful souls among us who are excited to participate with us!

      • There is a Saturday group that plays basketball at 11am over at 1st Pres. I know – so late! Wish they did it earlier. Anyhow, I’ve been wanting to play with them but they cancelled for a couple weeks and then last week I had that lunch with Erik already scheduled. If we do the thing at Noon – that’s fine, I just won’t play again. But if it’s 6 and a half doubled or a bakers dozen the other, I’d prefer a later slot to allow me to still play – even if I was only able to play for an hour. Just let me know – thanks.

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About the author


Nicole Oliver Snyder’s expertise lies in the areas of leadership, gender issues, and mindfulness practice as it affects both. Leadership, particularly in an urban setting, requires community-relations skills, and an ability to clearly convey justice issues as they relate to felt, spiritual ones. Dr. Snyder is author of Leading Together: Mindfulness and the Gender Neutral Zone, and specializes in teaching mindfulness leadership development, formative spirituality, counseling, and Old Testament theology (emphasis on justice issues). She has a diverse background in international community-relations work combined with volunteer work in multi-ethnic communities, and with local institutions. She is an ordained Clergy; holds a BS in Human Development and Family Studies, w/Education Certificate, an MA-Counseling, MDiv Equiv., holds a Doctor of Ministry and Advanced Certification in Formative Spiritual Direction, and is a Licensed Professional Counselor (CO, MI).

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