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.
Time Quartet by Madeleine L’Engle (anthology of A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, and Many Waters): Though marketed as “family values” reading, there’s more—much more—here. The heroes, including the supernatural ones, nestle into our souls; we grow to love them because somehow these people, these stories, are our people, our story.
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian by C. S. Lewis: Volumes One and Two of the Narnia Chronicles, these books attest to God’s love for, trust in, and dependence on children. Who would not trust their beloved son or daughter to Aslan’s care?
A River Runs Through It directed by Robert Redford: This simply beautiful movie closes with a sermon for all who love someone.
Fiddler on the Roof directed by Norman Jewison: A jovial Job figure, Tevye is losing his children and his home. He takes it all in stride until one event rocks his faith. Fiddler is proof that musicals need not be fluff.
Letters of Hope: Compose a letter expressing your best hopes for someone who walks with you through the Night. Either deliver the letter or offer it as an intercessory prayer.
Gethsemane Ponderings: After reading the gospel accounts of Jesus’ Gethsemane prayer, create a poem or artwork that expresses its message for your Dark-Night journey.
Into God’s Hands: Visualize a loved one for whom you have concern: holding a photo of the person may help. Then speak each concern aloud, followed by the words, “Into Your Hands.”
“Beautiful Boy” by John Lennon: “Life is just what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans”—wise advice from father John Lennon to his son and good for us to remember in the Night.
“Bring Him Home” from Les Miserables by Alain Boublil and Claude‑Michael Schönberg: When Colm Wilkinson sings “Bring Him Home” (the Broadway album), it’s almost unbearable. His anguished prayer pleads with a desperation parents know well. In the 2013 film version of Les Mis, Hugh Jackman brings his own sense of beauty and pathos to the song.
The Lost Sheep by Alfred Soord*: Most Good Shepherd depictions look like someone who wouldn’t last a day out of doors. But here is a determined, muscular shepherd with whom I can trust my lambs.
Migrant Mother by Dorothea Lange*: Feel hopeless to protect your children? Lange’s photo mirrors our anguish even as it tears out our hearts.
* Find these artworks in your neighborhood or Internet library.