Praying the heart new

imageOn Palm Sunday we walk with Christ Jesus into Jerusalem now towards the Cross. He enters, knowing it will lead to his death, knowing it will involve great suffering on the way to death.
His entry on this day is celebrated as if he would take up a rightful kingship over humanity—and palm branches and cloaks are spread before him over the dusty roads. But he does not enter in a display of great power, but riding on the young colt of a donkey, never ridden before.
He enters in total humility and vulnerability.
He makes himself open, a vessel, into which all human struggle will be poured. He receives us into himself, all of who we are, because that is what he came to do. He does not come to fix us, but to love us and give to us the power—all of it—to heal or not to heal.
His true power and gift is powerlessness: the ultimate non-violence. The gift that we can receive is to follow him freely in this powerlessness. This is another way of saying he makes himself totally present to us.
There is a prayer passed down through the centuries among Christians, a prayer to practice following him in this presence, to transform the self into a vessel for divine love, to find the root of our weakness in our separateness from our divine nature. This is really all sin is: separateness from ourselves, from the divine in which we have our true self. This prayer is given to help us overcome the separateness, to create a chalice of our own heart. It goes:    Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
This prayer is practiced many ways, but often accompanied by the instruction that it should be repeated for fifteen minutes, or a half hour, or throughout the day; beginning by being prayed on the lips, then quietly in the mind, and gradually making its way into our very center, into our hearts. It works rhythmically, like new blood pulsing into the empty place of our hearts, to clean out the chambers, preparing a new vessel within us. We rebuild ourselves in humility and vulnerability from the heart out.

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