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.
The Singer by Calvin Miller: The strongest in a trilogy of poems (fear not, they’re readable poems), Miller sings anew an old, old story, and we feel its violence and pathos afresh.
The Passion of the Christ directed by Mel Gibson: It begins in agony and does not let up until literally the film’s last seconds. Excruciating—almost impossible—to watch, The Passion is also beautiful and epic-sized. Flowing through its murderous madness run two clear streams of sanity: Jesus’ commitment to His call and Mary’s love for her suffering son.
Psalm & Response: Rewrite Psalm 22 in your own words. How does your experience connect with the pain expressed by the psalmist?
Questioning Prayer: Over the course of a few weeks, jot down the hard questions you have of God. Seek a time and place for solitude, and offer your questions aloud as a prayer. Sit in openness to whatever God might bring you.
“When I Survey” by Isaac Watts and Lowell Mason: I’m nuts about hymns—poetry, living theology, compelling music; let’s not lose such majesty. “When I Survey” weeps with the madness of divine love.
“Question” by the Moody Blues: Why can we never get answers to our hardest questions? The Blues ask theirs right out loud.
“Counting Blue Cars” by Dishwalla: God questions asked in the language of the child: endearing, perplexing, resonating.
Guernica by Pablo Picasso*: Depicting the bombing slaughter of a small Basque village in northern Spain, Picasso’s riveting work screams against the insanity of all violence.
The Magdalen in Penitence by Donatello*: Donatello, near the end of his life, depicts Mary near the close of hers. She bears the scars of hard living, but she wears the face of faith.
* Find these artworks in your neighborhood or Internet library.