Sunday, 1 April 2012

Getting ready for Holy Week

The week ahead is usually one of the busiest - and best - of the year for me as I prepare for Easter with my family and also in our L'Arche community.

 Today the boys and I started on our Easter garden. We have been adding a stone each day of Lent to a big plate of 'wilderness' that also contains a wooden figure of Jesus and a bare twig. We used the plate again, with a layer of compost in it and placed the stones neatly to make a path to the 'tree'. There is golden star on it - my youngest put it there earlier in Lent - today he reminded me, saying it was there because God is watching - oh how his words touched me...

We sprinkled on some wheatgrass seeds, watered them and then covered them with the bare dust - hopefully we'll get some green shoots for Easter! We also used some airdrying clay to model a tomb, using a big jar to hold the shape We'll remove it when the clay is dry. T had the idea to beat the clay with the back of a teaspoon to make a rocky texture - it looks good. We'll add that in to the garden on Friday. Then on Saturday we'll take time to add flowers and other plants, and who knows what else might be suggested. T has already made a bird from clay.

The little bean we planted  - that reminded us of a curled up baby - has sprouted and shot right up. I love how the green growth has pushed it's way straight out of the dried out dead looking husk.A little resurrection right in front of our eyes - from the baby bean.

In L'Arche this week, we meet for one of the most important events of our year. We very rarely celebrate Communion or Eucharist in our community, as we are so very ecumenical and it has never been easy to find a way through the questions surrounding different interpretations of Communion. However, what we can do, as most L'Arche communities in the UK do - is celebrate a simple form of the Passover meal, miming the story (if anyone is interested I can email a simple script)and sharing the basic elements of the liturgy and meal. It is a quiet meal, set to the background of music. Afterwards it is followed by footwashing, a sign of mutual care and love. My boys have been able to participate since they were young, and will do so again this year. It is a beautiful  moment in the life of our community.

On Good Friday we will walk together around our garden at L'Arche, miming a simple Stations of the Cross. You can read about it here.   The words and prayers are based on the book The Story of the Cross, The Stations of the Cross for Children by Mary Joslin. I was given this book and it's a good one in opening up this practice to non-Catholics, in a simple, helpful and well-illustrated way. We will finish with TaizĂ© prayer around the cross. The children enjoy the walking with others, the mimes - especially the soldiers - usually their Dad is one of them! Many others join in as the other people on the route, with simple costumes. Various people will be asked to say the prayers, so in this way, there is a part for everyone, to draw us all in together. In past years this has been very profound.

Other books I like for this week are the fabulously illustrated The Easter Story by Brian Wildsmith and The Tale of Three Trees by Angela Elwell Hunt. I'm looking forward other ideas for marking this week here.


  1. What an inspiring post! At our church the tradition is that the priest washes the feet of the congregation, which has its own logic and significance, but I would sometimes love to be in a service where we all wash each other's feet. Thanks for the photographs both of a child being served and a child serving - and indeed for all the photos!

    1. When we wash one another's feet we sit in a circle, and one person starts by washing the feet (or hands, if need be) of the person next to the, When they have finished, they kneel and receive a blessing - by means of hands placed on their head - and maybe a spoken or silent prayer or simple thank you. Then that person goes to wash the next one in the circle - this way everyone has their feet washed and washes the feet of another. Even the most disabled are helped to participate, this way the care is entirely mutual, which is a good metaphor for L'Arche.

  2. Such beautiful images of your Holy Week celebration- the clay tomb, the tiny bean sprouting and the feet washing ceremony. It is a feast for the eyes! Thank you also for including the link to L'Arche's website. That is also very interesting to read about and learn more about your lives and ministry.