I leave soon on pilgrimage to Israel and I can’t stop thinking about what it will be like to stand in the Garden of Gethsemane and walk the Via Dolorosa – the path Jesus likely took through Jerusalem from his trial to the Crucifixion.
I’ve walked it before, but this time I will be focusing on what it might have been like to be a woman in Jerusalem that first-century day.
“The day we call Good Friday both begins and ends in darkness, in a garden,” I wrote in my introduction to chapter 3 of Walk in Her Sandals: Experiencing Christ’s Passion through the Eyes of Women. “The first garden is a quiet place among olive trees, a place Jesus has often gone with his disciples to pray…. The second garden is Golgotha, “place of the skull” …. In the long hours between one garden and the other, Jesus is arrested, falsely accused, and sentenced to death. He walks, carrying his own cross, to Golgotha” (p 54).
In every chapter:
- I set the scene with commentary on the Scriptures for Palm Sunday, or Holy Thursday, or Good Friday — there’s a chapter for every significant day through Pentecost.
- Then Catholic novelist Stephanie Landsem plunges the reader into a fictional (but oh-so-real) account of women who were there.
- After that, Pat Gohn comments on one of the gifts of womanhood, drawn from Saint John Paul II’s teaching on the “feminine genius.” So Stephanie’s account of Veronica wiping the face of Jesus on Good Friday sets the stage for a discussion of sensitivity. “Sensitivity longs to help and to heal,” Pat writes. “These women see and believe in the hidden glory of God on the bloodied visage of Jesus. Their sensitivity fuels works of mercy…. As you come to Good Friday, consider your gift of sensitivity” (p65).
The book doesn’t let you go with that suggestion, but continues to draw you in and apply what you experience to your life. Each chapter continues with another reflection, suggestions for prayerful meditation, discussion questions, and ways to put faith into action—each section contributed by another Catholic woman author. It is an unusual book by women, about women, and for women that should be a powerful draw into these important mysteries of faith.
Working with Stephanie and Pat and Kelly Walquist of W.I.N.E.: Women in the New Evangelization (whose brainchild this was) on the project was an extraordinary experience. Now that I have the book in hand and can see how it all fits together – I am more convinced than ever that it will be a great blessing to those who read it. And I am very excited to experience the Holy Land again in this new light!
If you read this book alone or in a group, I’d love to hear what you think about it. And coming in time for Lent — I’m writing a companion journal for women to use in W.I.N.E. book clubs.
If you want to know more, check out these podcast interviews with Kelly, Stephanie, and me on A Seeking Heart with Allison Gingras — Catholic media’s only “on-air book club” — on Breadbox Media (click here and find September 28, 29, and 30, 2016, in the show archives).