Alleluia, Bill Redfield, chanting, common experience, Easter, morning prayer, movement prayer, presence, silence, strangers, The Sophia Center for Spirituality, virtual retreat
“Today is a day for a new hymn!”
That’s a line from a long ago poem that I read somewhere and liked the sentiment enough to pen my own feeble attempt at poetry as response. A lot of life has passed since then. I have changed, of course, as there is no life without that reality, but the quote seems apt for this Easter morning. One could say that it might fit each day if we were paying attention.
The run-up to the Easter feast has been more than just a calendar notation this year, to be sure. I was more or less able to be present to a “virtual retreat” all week, a genius idea and amazingly successful creation of my friend and colleague, Bill Redfield. There were morning prayer services each day that included silence, chanting, movement prayer to stirring music and short readings, in addition to a reflective session for the evening. There was a “conference” for the day with probing questions as well. All of this had been recorded ahead of time and added to the whole each day on the internet, enabling participants to come to prayer as their schedule allowed, knowing that there were others around the country and the world who were adding to the communal consciousness. It was a different, quite effective way of participation.
The most amazing part of this experience, however, came at 4:00 EDT every afternoon when as many of us as were able clicked onto a ZOOM call where Bill introduced a topic and then sent us to a virtual “breakout room” to share with one or two other participants. The common experience was instant comfort and generally deep sharing with people who will never again be strangers to us. In 15-20 minutes each time we touched into deep topics and feelings about the Holy Week and Easter experience from a Wisdom perspective. There were only 30 to 50 people each day – of the many more participants – whose schedules allowed this miracle, but the sharing was extraordinary and seemed to shout that each of the days was a time for “a new hymn.” The technology is there and as a person who sits on the fringe of the technological age it was a glorious turn-around that I fully embraced.
Last night I worshiped in a church where I sat in the midst of over 100 people I could not name and a few cherished friends but the experience of my retreat created in me the recognition that in that prayer together there were no strangers because of the enthusiasm of our corporate prayer. We were all there for the same purpose and offered our energy and our voices to the conviction that Jesus had risen not only 2000 years ago in a place far away but also in Endicott, NY in our very present experience. If we stay awake, we might just continue to live into that presence each day with our sisters and brothers near and far.
So I shout “Alleluia!” to a world brought closer kinder this Easter Day. Blessings to all!