On Sunday we waved the palm branches and celebrated Christ’s entry into Jerusalem.
Yesterday, we ate the bread and drank the wine, remembering Christ’s Last Supper.
Today we stand with the women at the foot of the cross, looking up at their dying Lord.
It is traditional on Good Friday to meditate on the words that Jesus spoke from the cross. Taken from all four Gospels, these “Seven Last Words,” as they’re called, are rich with meaning. I’ve included them here from the King James Version:
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)
“Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)
“Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” (Luke 23:46)
“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34)
“Woman, behold thy son! … Behold thy mother!” (John 19:26-27)
“I thirst.” (John 19:28)
“It is finished.” (John 19:30)
As I’ve thought this week about which of these words God might have me pray today as a breath prayer, the words that shimmer for me are “I thirst.” I do not feel particularly thirsty these days. But I am tired. The other night, when I mentioned this, Jack said drily, “Gee, Mama, I can’t imagine why you’re tired. You only have four kids.”
Yes. Four kids. Two babies. A lot of joy. A lot of work. I’m so much better than I was (for which I give daily thanks), but my margins are still thin. I’m still running pretty close to empty. So maybe it’s not so surprising that the thirst-word shimmers: I’m a little soul-parched.
So today, that is my breath prayer, my very small place of identification with Jesus in His agony, my recognition that the water that flowed from His side is the water I need. Living water for my thirsty soul.
I need the living water.
Perhaps you, too, might ponder and pray through these words today? As you read them, slowly, attentively, prayerfully, pay attention: which of them shimmers for you? Might you pray the word that shimmers as a breath prayer on this best and worst of days, a way to remember Christ and his suffering on our behalf?
This post is part of a Lenten series on spiritual practices that cultivate attentiveness to the presence of God.