The Rev. Cynthia K. R. Banks ; Palm Sunday—Year C; Luke 19:28-40; Isaiah 50:4-9a; Psalm 31:9-16; Philippians 2:5-11; Luke 22:14-23:56. Video
How did it all go so wrong? Just 30 minutes ago, we were waving palm branches and shouting “Hosanna in the highest to our king!” and 5 minutes ago, we were shouting, “Crucify him!” How did it go so wrong so fast? I don’t know, but I do know that we hit moments like this in our life. A plan doesn’t work out, a diagnosis comes, a harsh word is said, a conflict spins out of control, world events erupt, and whatever delicate equilibrium we have cultivated gives way to chaos, and we look up to find ourselves in a place that we never intended to be.
Our vision becomes clouded, courage fails us, betrayal seems like a good plan. The thoughts begin—move to silence perceived threats, keep the peace at all costs, mock another for that temporary kick of feeling that you are just a little bit better than the poor soul in front of you, deride, run away, weep until you can weep no more, risk your neck to care for a body who was someone’s son. So many thoughts run through our heads, so many words spill from our mouths, so much happening all at once. It’s too much. It’s too fast. It’s Holy Week. It’s the fullness of our humanity on full display. Nothing is hidden this week. Nothing. And truth be told, that terrifies us.
If we dare to walk through this week, we will touch the darkest places in our souls, and who wants to do that? Why would we want to do that?
On Thursday, clergy from across the diocese gathered with lay leaders in our cathedral in Asheville to renew our vows. In his sermon, Bishop Taylor spoke of Moses, a murderer, who was called to return to Egypt, that place where his face was plastered on “WANTED” posters everywhere, and the Bishop spoke of Patrick who was called to return to Ireland which had been the place of his enslavement. He went on to talk about how Moses and Patrick both had to return to that place of their primal wound. Primal wound. I’m not sure I heard anything past that. Those words strike something deep inside.
Holy Week is the journey we take to touch our primal wound. We touch those places where we have betrayed another and where we have been betrayed. We touch those places we promised we would never deny and yet did and remember the times we were denied. We touch all those places where we have unleashed venom upon another—in word, in action, in the thoughts we dare not speak, and we relive those moments when those words have been spewed at us. We touch those places where expediency became more important than the people in front of us and we recall when we were a casualty of the well-oiled machine. We touch that place where we just couldn’t stay present and had to run away, and we touch those times when we were utterly, utterly abandoned—by everyone, by God.
These are our primal wounds. Maybe not all of them, but somewhere along the way this week, if you walk this journey faithfully, you will discover your primal wound. And in returning to that place, you will discover the truth that sets us free. For at the center of each of these places dwells Jesus—holding space, staying present, arms outstretched, embracing all of these primal wounds—filling them with his life, draining them of their power, redeeming them, transforming them, healing them.
We don’t touch our primal wound as some sort of spiritual masochism; we touch our primal wound to discover just how deep God’s love runs. If we are ready to walk this journey, if we are ready to look into every face this week, and see our own face looking back, if we are ready to touch that primal wound, then this week will be a place of revelation from start to finish.
And all the primal wounds that Jesus will absorb this week, they won’t disappear, but they become integrated into Jesus’ resurrection body. That’s the unimaginable possibility that awaits us too. Come one week from today, resurrected life will shine through our wounds, as well.
I wish you the holiest of Holy Weeks. Don’t miss this journey. There’s too much healing just waiting to be done, too many wounds to be absorbed and transformed, too much joy to hold when we discover that wounds don’t just bleed, but in fact, they are the spring from which resurrection flows. Amen.
The Rev. Cynthia K. R. Banks
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Boone, NC
March 20, 2016