April 01, 2021

Bouncing Rhythm of Spring: Maundy Thursday

By Therese Conway
Interior of Christ Church, Gananoque Ontario

This is a photo of Christ Church, the Anglican Church in Gananoque, my eastern Ontario home. It's a small wooden church and architecturally beautiful. I am not a regular attendee at services here, but it's on my mind today because I had the most profound spiritual experience in a church of my life here—30 years ago this year.

We had been living in Gananoque for about eight months and an elderly relative of my then-husband asked me to take her to Maundy Thursday services. The night was damp and snowy, not a night that invited you out if you didn't have to be somewhere. My recollection is of eight or nine women attending the services. The long since retired organist was filling in. Fred Lawton. He was old and looked frail.

The reading that evening was the story of the prodigal son. The minister gave a beautiful and simple sermon about unconditional love and how we are always met with loving and open arms by the divine—no matter what kind of shape we are in. Forgiveness never entered the picture. Only love and celebration. His words were nice, but it was the atmosphere of silence that delivered them to me that permeated my body. I can't remember ever feeling such quiet, loving holiness in a church. As I listened to him, I felt myself wrapped in a pure, loving embrace that softened me. I dropped my guard and rested.

And then Fred Lawton started playing the organ. I do not know the parts of the organ and which parts you play to get different sounds, but Fred played all the low, reverberating notes--and loudly. And he kept it up. The wooden church shook through the walls, up to the the rafters, and down through the floor and pews. The sound rattled my bones and I felt as if the detritus of years was shaking loose from my body, from deep inside my bones. It was an earthquake in my body. I looked around to see the awe in the other women's faces, but they were all heads bowed in prayer. When the service was over, we walked out quietly. It was Maundy Thursday, after all, a solemn day worthy of silence.

I think of that evening often. Never been able to replicate the silence of the church or the spiritual/body earthquake of the organ. It's not because I haven't tried.

Ordinarily, I don't observe Lent, but this year I have. My attention for the past 40 days has been on loosening the "things" in my body—the lies I've learned, the misconceptions about myself, my fears, my prejudices—all those things that keep me from being a person who responds to love, beauty, and joy. I figure if I am more responsive to love than to fear, I will be more resilient and effective in my world.

Today, the Maundy Thursday shaking seems particularly apt. As we know, shaking is one of the most effective ways we have to deal with stress or a trauma response. It allows us to shake off and reset. Raise your hand if you haven't felt stressed at some point this year! I shake most days in my qigong practice. But today, I want to add more joy to my shake. And I invite you to shake along with me—to shake out those bits that may be hanging on to you only loosely, to loosen up the more stubborn bits, and to clear the lens of perception with which you regard yourself and your world.

I invite you to bounce and shake with me. Pick your favourite tune and dance. While you are dancing, imagine things just dropping from your body. Don't think too hard about what you are dropping, just let it drop.

Re-read this year's Spring Equinox Essence about how to make the most of an rapidly changing season. We have lots to shake off and lots of joy to tune our antennae toward.


Dance suggestions:

Slower:

 

Faster:

 

Lots of love to you,

Therese

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