For years I did the Stations of the Cross every day. I find in them the hope to live courageously when everything, even your own self, fails.
In the midst of the difficulty of the time the Stations recollect, I find echoes of a life lived well, a life that was open to the surprise of the unexpected, the truth of a story. I also hear echoes of the impulses towards my own violence and blame mechanisms.
Today, for Good Friday, I wrote some collects, to go with the Stations. Some are below, accompanied by the gorgeous art of Sieger Koder. His religious art can be found at PB&M.
God of the accused
and the accusing,
who made the mouth, the ear and
the heart of all in conflict.
May we turn ourselves towards that
which must be heard,
because there we will hear your voice.
God of the ground,
whose body was - like ours - from dust,
and who fell - like we fall -to the ground.
May we find you on the ground
when we fall.
Oh, our falling fallen brother, may we find you, so that we may inhabit our bodyselves.
Mary, Mother of Failure,
Where we do not understand
we can hope to know
that we are loved.
Pray for us to have the grace to know
our own stories of failure,
because much was kept from you,
but we know that you were loved.
your story is doubted
You did what you could
even though it was very little.
May we do the same
even when we doubt.
Jesus of the flesh,
Naked you came from the womb
and naked you were made for the cross.
May we always honour
the integrity of the body.
We ask this for no other reason
than our own dignity.
Jesus, our Lord of death,
You have gone where we
have not yet gone.
We honour your death with art.
May we also learn from our fear,
didn't save you from anything.
Jesus of the unexpected,
for at least some of your life
this was not how you imagined its end.
Yet even at the end,
you kept steady in your conviction.
Jesus, keep us steady.
Jesus, keep us steady.
Because, Jesus, keep us steady.
The collect is a beautiful form for prayer, with five parts. The first is the addressing of God followed by the second part expanding upon the address. The third part names the desire, with the fourth linking the purpose of the desire with the name by which God was addressed at the beginning. It ends with a simple 'amen' or with 'we ask this in the name of...'. All form - like the sonnet, haiku or collect - can, through adherence, aid the one forming in patient unfolding of a thought. Walter Wangerin Jr. writes artfully about the collect (together with other prayer-forms) in his book Whole Prayer.