Each day of Holy Week, I will post spiritual practices from my book, When God Walks Away. The book (pictured) likens the dark-night journey to the events of Holy Week. Since engaging with art can be a spiritual practice, you will notice references to music, films, and visual artworks in addition to more traditional forms of spiritual discipline.
I hope these practices provide nourishing soul food as you make your way toward Easter.
Strong Poison, Have His Carcase, Gaudy Night, and Busman’s Honeymoon by Dorothy L. Sayers: Sayers took the mystery genre deeper when she introduced Harriet Vane to Lord Peter Wimsey; the fop finds his soul and with it, true suffering and a deeper life.
The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin: Raskin’s Newberry Award winner is as intelligent and rascally a mystery as I’ve ever read—great stuff! Don’t let the Newberry fool you—it’s a great read at any age.
Mystery! Cadfael by PBS: Derek Jacobi is brilliant as the seasoned, centered monk of Shrewsbury Abbey (his tender care for the sick reminds me of John of the Cross!). Based on Ellis Peters’s wonderful books, Cadfael looks on life’s hardships with a sharply theological and keenly compassionate eye.
Gosford Park directed by Robert Altman: An English manor house, a party of the rich and famous, and an inexplicable murder—but this time it’s those “below stairs” whom we need to watch. Polished, smart, and surprising, Gosford Park makes for a rollicking evening of viewing.
Silent Language Listening: If your home or workplace is sterile of mystery, bring in a plant, a bowl of shells, or a basket of pine cones. With your eyes, fingers, and nose, examine these samples of God’s creative love. They speak a silent, mysterious language we can miss in our harried lives.
Hard Sayings Search: Search the Gospels for sayings of Jesus’ that leave you bewildered. List or picture questions and concerns each passage raises for you. Offer your questions to Jesus as a prayer.
“Gethsemane” by Andrew Lloyd Webber: In Jesus’ gut-wrenching solo from Jesus Christ, Superstar resounds a rage, confusion, and weariness I know well. What Jesus felt in those moments is a mystery, but it is a mystery that calls my name.
“Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin: Bustles in hedgerows? No need to figure out the lyrics, just feel the yearning, invite the haunting melody in, and sing along.
Mona Lisa by da Vinci*: Not only is this painting’s conception and history mysterious, the piece itself whispers questions it refuses to answer. What is this woman feeling, thinking? Who is she, really? We look closely at her eyes, mouth, hands, and for an instant, seem to know. But then she changes somehow…
* Find this artwork in your neighborhood or Internet library.