by Gail Allen
Today is one of, if not, my *most* favorite church holidays of the year. Why? You might ask. It’s just some random Thursday, right? Well, actually...no. As you might guess from the word itself, holidays typically refer to a special day within a certain religious tradition (Holy Days).
Today, in the Christian tradition, is Maundy Thursday. It often gets skipped over. The Sunday prior is Palm Sunday and celebrates… well, Jesus being celebrated… parade and all! Tomorrow, Good Friday, we remember with the stark drama of the Crucifixion. And of course, this coming Sunday is Easter, when Christians celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus, and people of many religious faiths and traditions, celebrate Spring, love, and new birth.
So what is to celebrate about today? At first glance, perhaps not that much. The Last Supper… that Christians celebrate and remember with every communion or Eucharist. I mean, it is a big deal, but we do this many times through the year. Jesus displayed his humility by washing the feet of the Apostles. The betrayal of Judas. The Garden of Gethsemane. The mock trial when Pontius Pilate washed his hands of the whole affair of the Jews. These are not events that the characters themselves would likely want to remember and certainly not by others, perhaps. Afterall, it’s not exactly humanity’s finest moment.
However, this stark day of remembrance is humanity itself. The Dark Night of the Soul of all humanity. Our very existence’s Shadow Side. We tend to only want to focus on the Light. Peace, love and light to all, right? What kind of weirdo wants to celebrate betrayal? Abandonment? Doubt? Gross! No one wants to even think about the fact that anyone is capable of something so horrific! Let’s skip from the Jesus Parade straight to the Ham Dinner after church! Easter eggs and bunny cookies! We can even decorate our crosses in the beautiful spring flowers!
But … hear me out. The dark part is important. It’s not only worth remembering, it’s worth celebrating. In my experience, THIS is where change happens. Lasting, dramatic, drastic change that shows up for us for the rest of our lives - the change that other people notice. Those places that a bookmark notes life before and after. This is the human part. Just like in a traditional Maundy Thursday church service, this is where we get stripped bare, just like the altar. We come face to face with our humility and vulnerability as we allow someone to serve us by washing our feet. At the end of the service, all the light is extinguished. The normally bright brass and copper icons are either removed or draped in black cloth...and remain that way until Sunrise on Easter Sunday. And so it is with our lives. It’s often not until we lay them bare - stripped of all the roles, titles, and images that define us - that we find our most authentic selves. Our most human natures. THEN ...and only then...can we see ourselves for who we really are. The unlovely parts that need the most love. We all have parts that we would rather remain hidden. Parts that we don’t want others to know or see. But ignoring those parts doesn’t make them go away. It’s only when we offer them up to the Light for healing, that just like Easter Sunrise, we realize there has been a perfect plan full of Love all along. We don’t have to only focus on the light and we don’t have to ignore the dark. They’re both beautiful and worth celebrating.
Gail Allen and Danielle Schwartz are both 500-RYT yoga professionals trained in Hatha and Kundalini Yoga. They specialize in Chakra Healing, Curvy Yoga, 8 Limbs of Recovery (yoga for recovering addicts), Reiki Healing, Aromatherapy, and other modalities of healing.