Tenebrae, Holy Triduum, and a Mandate to Love

Yesterday, on the day of the first full moon in spring, that was also Wednesday of Holy Week, and is often referred to as Tenebrae - on the eve of the Triduum, and the culmination of a personal year of penitence and reflection - I am moved and led to seek the sacrament of Reconciliation, and absolution - not so much for the reasons others might seek it or expect - but because it is fitting and just, and in the natural order of things for my spirit... There can be no other worthy or acceptable conclusion for an Examen of Conscience that has spanned more than a year, validating the lonely journey towards atonement in which my soul has sought refuge, within the context of years of Loving-Kindness practice...

I think of this, as I go down to the river after my morning meditation, on a windy and blustery day that is overcast, and seems more reminiscent of winter than of spring. The river is bursting with activity, waves following closely behind other waves in tight formation, and I instinctively know it would not be a good day for kayaking...

The first full moon in spring calls me to cleanse my soul, to give up all that does not serve and holds me back. So for the first time in over a decade I am led to seek a sacrament I have not received in so long - simply because a sacrament is the outward sign and manifestation of a reality that has already taken place, deeply within the cave of one's heart...

I am surprised that I am moved to tears, feeling embraced and recognized, though I do not focus on the enumeration of failings - I've already entertained too much of that. Instead I speak of my journey - having felt in exile - bereft of community - wandering in the desert for so long - not seen and not heard and not recognized...

The word "sin" comes from the Greek - "hamartia" - which means "to miss the mark" - as in an arrow missing its intended target. For a period much longer than I care to admit, I have revisited all the occasions where I have slighted and hurt others, going back as far as I can remember...

I am moved to outwardly proclaim the reality within me - and am simply asked to receive the blessings that God has already bestowed on me...

In a small, but beautiful chapel with a bronze statue of Mary, I marvel at my own spiritual journey and how I have embraced so many spiritual practices from so many traditions - all of them converging in the silence of my heart and enriching me in ways that defy explanation...

In utter loneliness of soul, I feel a Divine gaze following me like the eyes of the Mona Lisa - it will not let me go or release me from its grip, and I truly know, I have never been alone in all my sacred journeys and endeavors...

On this day, I reflect on the fact that forgiving ourselves is often more difficult than forgiving others. And the more we engage in this practice, the more layers we uncover, hungrily seeking our attention within. There is never an end to interior growth...

I move into Holy Thursday -  also known as "Maundy Thursday," and so called because it was once known as the day of "Mandatum" - that is - the day when we remember and recommit to the mandate we have been given to love one another as God has loved us. Such a simple request or command - but such a difficult one to embody... We must love all - the least of these - but most especially those who push our buttons the most...

I may not wash the feet of others, as it is done in today's liturgy - but I must embrace all those I have difficulty with in my heart. But mostly, I need to meet myself in the cave of my own heart...

This sacred Triduum - spanning from Holy Thursday to Holy Saturday - I tell myself - what I most need to do, is not love others, so much as I need to love and accept myself and realize that I am not only worthy of the love of others - but that I am worthy of God's Love. And that Love - is unmerited and unconditional and eternal!

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