A reflection and prayer for these Triduum days, on the way of the cross— the way of the rose.
I find myself praying the rosary a lot these days. My hands need something to hang on to, and my heart needs to know the Mother is here. My mind needs to remember that She presides over emerging life (maiden), fullness of life (mother), and death, or end of life (crone). I wrap myself in her mantle of compassion, I give her my entire heart’s load of worries and wonderings. I rest, in Her.
For millennia, long before Catholicism, lovers of the Mother have been stringing together whatever they could find—stones, flowers, bones—linking them to the concerns and desires of their heart and offering them to the One who Births all Life.
The rosaries I pray these days are different than the rosaries of my childhood. Rarely do I pray to “Father” anymore. The long-cherished prayers to the Father of my childhood are turning readily towards the face of the Mother, creating a wholeness that moves closer to the truth of Divine Love. I’ve realized that my being, like the culture we swim in, desperately needs the Mother now. We need Her all-inclusive, unconditional, totally healing love.
I’ve tossed out the sexist and abused concept of “virgin”. Instead, I claim “sovereign”—Mary in her full power and presence, a woman in God unto herself. I let the mysteries, the events of the life, suffering, death and rising of Jesus, the son of the Mother, really penetrate my being. I imagine and visualize and wonder, deeply, what it was like for him, then. How he was, then, as the incarnate Son of the Mother, as Her light and heart in the world.
This week, the days in the Catholic liturgical calendar known as Triduum, or the passion of Christ before Easter celebrations, I’m praying the Sorrowful Mysteries. They mark the acutely painful moments at the end of Jesus’ ministry. These were just the culmination– his ministry was filled with many struggles as he tried to be himself and preach truth as a deeply feminine man dismantling every injustice in a patriarchal world.
This week as I pray, I have felt invited to imagine these mysteries, and Jesus, and his Mother, from a feminine, earth-centered perspective. I share them with you now, that you might pray too, in that heart-open way the Mother knows. I pray for you– that you might find comfort in your own pain, resurrection in the death you fear and the death that is here. That you might know the solidarity of the Christ, of his deeply feminine sacred heart, and of Hers, Our Mother.
The first sorrowful mystery:
Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane
In your time of immense despair and unknown, O Jesus, you go to the earth. You go to the garden, to give yourself to the body of the Mother. You have shared your last meal with your friends, you have told them what is to come, you have tried to give everything that you have and are—your own body and blood. This in itself is such a feminine act—like a mother giving birth— “this is my body, this is my blood!” And now, here, in the garden, you pour out your own suffering, the weight of your heart you have carried these thirty-three years. You have felt Her love, Her sacred heart beats in you, you have long known what She asks of you, to love with Her love, to love Her children without exception, to heal and create and live in deep kindness. You have embodied kin-ship, union with all. You have brought together male and female disciples and said there is no separation, no hierarchy in the realms of God’s love. Your shining truth has bucked the status quo and now, death is near. Your radiant life is a threat to all powers that be, especially the dominant patriarchy. You don’t fit into any boxes, your love and challenge to all injustice and inequality cannot be controlled. So they come for you. Death comes for you. You give this great burden to your Mother, shedding tears and sweat as drops of blood upon the earth. Even before your death on the cross, you offer yourself to the Mother. You trust that She, the One who is with us in every suffering, death and rebirth, will not leave you now.
The second sorrowful mystery:
Scourging at the Pillar
Lord, your solidarity with all of humanity and the earth comes to a culmination here, in this moment of utter humiliation and violence. Your body is beaten, whipped. Blood runs over you as blood has run over the contours of the earth in war and disease and monolithic agriculture, the rape of the earth. As the earth has been pillaged so have the bodies of women, your daughters. The suffering of women and of the earth is inextricably linked, and you know what has been and what is to come. You feel the pain of the earth and the pain of humanity in every cell of your body. You showed up on this earth in a man’s body with a deeply feminine presence—calling people into circles, not hierarchies; healing the deep wounds of sexism; loving with a wide-open, vulnerable heart; choosing women as disciples and leaders and lifting them up as examples of great wisdom. You chose a woman as your primary apostle, the apostle to the apostles—Mary of Magdala. You were a man who felt and loved and softened hatred and turned power upside down. You taught men to unite their hearts with their heads, soften the rules and remember who the Living God really is. Your way was of Love, of power from the earth and from the people, especially the most lost and forsaken. With your authentic way of truth, you dismantled the institutional structures claiming power-over, religious and political. You embodied a new way, a way of unity and love. In this moment, your vulnerability is turned against you, mocked and ravaged. Yet this too, somehow, is a moment of unity—with every vulnerability in each of us, with every woman raped, with every acre of the earth abused and destroyed. Somehow, you stand in this solidarity, in faith and in surrender. You let go of all you cannot do, and you trust the Cosmic power of the Mother, a great holding and Love so much bigger than this moment.
The third sorrowful mystery:
Crowning with Thorns
How painful was it for you, Jesus, to be crowned with thorns, to be mocked as king when you came as kin? When you came as brother, as fellow human, ushering in the farthest thing from a kingdom, those dominant power structures that were already destroying the earth, your Mother? When you were bringing true kin-ship, solidarity with all of creation, unity of masculine and feminine, male and female, heaven and earth? How painful it must have been! To have been crowned with thorns when your heart is a rose. To have been pierced with the projections and misunderstandings of others? And then, O God, to see two millennia unfold of this very thing—a religious kingdom of oppression created out of your subversive, feminine, way of the rose? To witness your name being used to justify the things unthinkable to your soul—rape of women, dominating sexism, the slaughter of innocents, racism and selfishness and greed? How throughout time your spirit must be mourning and weeping in this valley of tears? How you must have suffered, Lord, and yet, you remained true—to your heart, to your path, to the Love of the Mother. You united your heart to Hers, pierced again and again and still, pouring out love. Standing in your truth, being who you ARE, embodying that the ancient yet new way of the Divine Feminine was worth dying for.
The fourth sorrowful mystery
The Way of the Cross
How beautiful, Lord, that in your final moments, on the road to your death, you were met by rose after rose! Somehow, on this path of suffering you were met with kindness, softness, compassion and love. Yes, there were those who beat you and jeered at you. But there were those who wiped your face and helped carry your cross. Your mother gazed upon you with the love that made you first know the Great Mother, and in her eyes you found the strength to continue. The women of Jerusalem wept for you, and when you asked them to mourn for their own children and the children to come, you turned that particular grief into a cosmic grief, a transforming sadness washing us all up on some new shore. You fell, again and again and again, into the dirt, onto the cracked, dry earth of the Mother. Maybe your cheek needed to touch her softness, to remember. Maybe each time, you kissed the ground, loving Her, letting Her love You. Maybe each fall gave you a moment of rest, a little bit more motivation to take the next step. Was this the way, O brother? Was each fall a surrender, a giving over to Her? Was this the way you made it to the crest of that hill? Hanging on to each rose, to each moment of kindness and love, gaze fixed on Her eyes?
The fifth sorrowful mystery
You were hung, Lover of Lovers, on a cross. Did they know, those who looked upon you, that the cross is an ancient symbol of the Mother? Of her rootedness in the earth and expansion into the cosmos? That in all moments, it is She who opens her arms wide to receive Her children, Her son? That it is Her, Sister Death, who watches over all Her suffering and dying ones? Did they know? Even here, Lord, your rose of a heart loved—reaching out to those on each side of you, loving your mother and the Magdalene faithfully standing at the foot of your dying. Even here, you let go more, you surrendered more to Her love. Even here, the rose of your heart opened and bloomed. When they pierced your side, blood and water flowed out, yet again, reminding us of your total offering, of birth, the promise of new life coming through this horror. And when you died, at last, the entire earth responded, Her cosmic body lamented, from the shaking of the below to the darkening of the above. At last, of course, your body is laid first in the arms of your earthly mother, and then in the arms of your eternal Mother, the earth. You are placed in a cave, the same earth home into which you were born, in the womb of the Mother. Your body is prepared by the women who loved you, who ushered you into this life and saw you through the Great Gateway we call death but is truly More Life. You have come home, and are left, at last, to rest.
In your rest, O Rose of Life, let us find ours. In your letting go, help us let go. Help us find respite in the body of the earth, our Mother. Take away our fear and replace it with trust and love. Help us to trust that, even here, in death, in the deep darkness of the tomb, there are seeds, growing. There is newness, Rising. There is Life.