We just wrapped up Holy Week, and wow was that a roller coaster. Palm Sunday, we remembered the crowds lauding Jesus as he entered Jerusalem triumphantly. Maundy Thursday, we remembered Jesus washing his disciples' feet, the beautiful, unifying words that he shared with his disciples at the first communion, his betrayal, and his arrest. Good Friday, we remembered the crowds turning on him and his violent, brutal death. Holy Saturday, we remembered the hopeless, fearful hiding of his followers. Easter Sunday, we remembered his resurrection that conquered the power of death for us all.
Amidst all the remembering, my present-day life was a roller coaster too, filled with ups and downs throughout the week. By the time Easter morning rolled around, I hadn't yet recovered from a major emotional blow the evening before. I wasn't feeling a bit Easterish. I was feeling decidedly Good Fridayish. As the pastor prayed mid-service and I bowed my head, hot tears brimmed and I was miserable. He is Risen! And I was sitting in a puddle of self-pity and resentment.
It is the Jesus who lived the roller coaster of Holy Week that showed up for me in that moment on Easter morning. "It's okay," He told me. "You don't have to feel the Easter right now. I'm with you in the Good Friday too. I've been there too. I'm right here with you, whatever you're feeling. Life is hard, but you're not alone."
Oftentimes when we're down, we think we need to get happier -- to find the bombastic Easter inside of us. In that moment of Christ's tangible presence on Easter, I was reminded that what I needed was to open up to my experience as it was -- to let Christ in. On his own Good Friday, Jesus did not spend his time in the Garden of Gethsemane rejoicing in the power of the resurrection. He spent his time weeping and asking to get out of the suffering, feeling abandoned by his disciples who couldn't even stay awake for him. Jesus is not afraid of my Good Friday emotion. He's lived it, and he lives this roller coaster with me too.
This is the beautiful intersection of faith and mindfulness. Mindfulness reminds me to be fully present to my life, all of it. When I do that, my eyes open and I see Jesus. Usually, I'm like the disciples on Easter morning who cleared the scene of the resurrection and returned to their homes, not understanding. Or I'm like Mary who lingered by the tomb, cluelessly searching for some tiny scrap of hope (Jesus' dead body) when everything she longed for was right in front of her (the risen Christ). When I am mindful, I linger with the moment long enough, and I open my senses wide enough, so that I see Jesus standing in front of me, no matter how I'm feeling. My pausing and opening creates the opportunity to hear my name like Mary did, to recognize that all I need is right in front of me -- that Christ is risen, and Christ is present through it all. I must only pause, open, and listen for my name.
I am Irene Kraegel. I work as a clinical psychologist and teach mindfulness on a faith-based university campus. I practice mindfulness because it opens me up to God (a.k.a. brings joy). I am writing here in hopes of sharing some of my experiences and thoughts related to the practice of mindfulness in the life of a Christian. Thanks for reading!
Looking for more?
Check out my new book - The Mindful Christian - now available wherever books are sold!