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Unexpected Views

Sometimes life just doesn't look the way we were expecting. I recently visited an important place in my life where I haven't been in many years. I could see ghosts of myself from a former time, a version of me who didn't know then what I know now.

I felt all the old angst and defenses returning to me in those spaces. But I made a choice. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I let the sun touch my face. I spoke words of grace to myself. I was gentle in the hard spaces. And I was able to ask if there was something new for me, in returning to those broken places.

All the walls I have built to defend myself were in place, but I allowed myself to adjust the rusty hinge at those gates and see what happened if I opened things up just a crack.

Today is Maundy Thursday. We are deep into the heart of Holy Week, sitting in the darkness and confusion. Today we honor those spaces of hopelessness in our faith story, where there are no easy words.

The pain of this former place in my life is still painful. But I have done the hard work of healing, and I was brave enough to open my eyes again expecting unexpected views. This is an odd sort of blessing. It doesn't look the way I wanted or hoped. I still have questions and confusion - but there is now also space for peace. I've carried the hard stuff long enough.

I hope on this holy day, you might consider looking for the odd sorts of blessings. Not that they diminish your pain, but they allow you to release what you are carrying. Honor your questions today. Know that you don't see the whole story. Ask for help and clarity where you need it.

In doing so, you may stumble upon something new. Jan Richardson describes these feelings well in her prayer "Blessing You Cannot Turn Back" (see below), focused on the washing of the disciples' feet. The awkwardness of Peter when his feet are washed by Jesus in John 13 speaks to all of us. We don't always understand, and we are often quick to resist, because things don't look like we imagined. May you experience Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday - and the Good News of Easter when it arrives - with the courage to peer around the locked spaces of your heart. And if you do, may you be met with unexpected views.

Blessing You Cannot Turn Back

For Holy Thursday

As if you could

stop this blessing

from washing

over you.

As if you could

turn it back,

could return it

from your body

to the bowl,

from the bowl

to the pitcher,

from the pitcher

to the hand

that set this blessing

on its way.

As if you could

change the course

by which this blessing


As if you could

control how it

pours over you—




yet startling

in the way

it matches the need

you did not know

you had.

As if you could

become undrenched.

As if you could

resist gathering it up

in your two hands

and letting your body

follow the arc

this blessing makes.

—Jan Richardson

from Circle of Grace

© Jan Richardson.

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