Hearing the Story Again
Douglas Graves of Burbank, CA, USA
I will appoint Peace as your overseer
and Righteousness as your taskmaster.
Violence shall no more be heard in your land,
devastation or destruction within your borders;
you shall call your walls Salvation,
and your gates Praise. -Isaiah 60:17b-18
I’ve had the good fortune to work on many musical productions in my life. I enjoy the reaction of different audiences. Most shows are hoping for loud, thunderous applause at the end of big numbers. I had the pleasure of working on a show recently, however, where the opposite was true. It was amazing to hear a large audience, as if holding their breath, not make a noise at the end of a song. Silence became the mark of how well they were captured by the story.
The arc of Jesus’ return to Jerusalem is the opposite of what was expected. No great conquering leader, riding a horse, driving the Romans out of the city; but a teacher, riding a donkey, speaking of peace and forgiveness. The ending of the story is unsettling, one that causes reflection, but ultimately invites us to view our lives anew and celebrate rebirth.
Seeing the same show repeatedly may be boring to some people. That is always a challenge in my line of work. However, once we fully know the story, we can look for nuances and layers those who created the story have placed there. We can study how the performers use the words to breathe new life into something we’ve heard many times over.
As we travel through this time of Lent, let us take time to look for things we may not have observed in the story before. Let us hear with new understanding how those words affect us now, not just from our memory. Let us tell the story afresh every time so those hearing it for the first time will experience our passion for the text. May we experience both the ecstatic “Hosannas” and the painful quiet of the garden at night.
I surrender into your love.
Set a timer for 20 minutes. (If that feels like too much at first, choose a time that will be comfortable for you as a starting place, committing to expand that time in future prayer.) Allow the rhythm of your breath to draw you deeper and deeper into silence. As you breathe, claim one sacred word (Christ, peace, grace, trust, etc.) emerging in you as an anchor to return you to the intention of your prayer when your thoughts begin to wander. Gently release the thoughts and images that come, making space for presence to the One who is with you here and now. Release, return, “be vulnerable to divine grace” (Doctrine and Covenants 163:10b).
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.