Lenten Hope

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It’s just been a tough couple of weeks..certainly don’t want to compare myself to Job, but at my lowest moments, that’s where I’m going.  Why is it that at times the struggles seem to come from every direction?  No matter what I plan for my ‘lenten sacrifices/promises,’ God always has other plans.  And so, in the midst of all of this ‘garbage’ which I’m dealing with now, God is there.  And so, my next questions must become, “What am I to learn from this…..how can I grow from this?”

And, as I oscillate between wallowing in self-pity and holding out for the sunrise, I catch a glimpse of my daffodil bulbs poking through the winter ground.  In the midst of the snow and cold, the dead leaves and twigs, the promise of spring bursts through.  The fresh green of new life reaching up to the heavens…..now that is LENTEN HOPE!

 

It’s all dance…

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The dance of lent…..

Who’s leading the dance?

What ‘music’ are you listening to?

And for today…..which dance are you dancing?

ballet – lots of turns, trying to keep your balance?

jazz – moving to a rhythm, lots of improv., just trying to listen to the music?

tap – fast moving, keeping up with the tempo, carefully crafting each step?

hip-hop – trying to keep up – moving with the culture?

And…..when you stumble…..whose arms do you fall into?

God’s topsy-turvy world

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Reflect on this…..

God’s World:

He speaks in the silence

The first will be last and the last will be first

Blessed be the….poor, mourning, meek, hungry

“I’ll have dinner at your house tonight Zacchaeus”

“If I don’t wash your feet…..”

“Whoever loves his life will lose it”

“It is profitable for you that I go away”

Death on a cross means victory

And we wonder why people have trouble with Christianity????

 

Lent: action or attitude?

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I’ve been thinking about lent this year…

what shall I do,

what shall I give up,

what shall I take on?

Should I try the ‘sweets thing’ again like my friend does?  Why bother, I can never make it all the way through, I start to rationalize…yogurt with chocolate bits, is that considered ‘sweets?’  And then in a weak moment I grab a cookie.  That’s it, I’ve broken my lenten promise, and the guilt sets in…


lenten stress!

How about taking on some extra prayers,

reading the Bible more,

random acts of kindness…..

How about giving up beets and turnips – ok, not such a sacrifice –
but at least I can do that for 40 days!!!

So, in a few hours lent begins and it’s time to make my final decision

This year I have decided that lent will not be ‘action’, it will be ‘attitude’.
When I look ahead to the glory of Easter,
I am humbled by the Gift of the Resurrection.

It’s really all gift, isn’t it?

And so, to prepare myself for the Easter Gift, I will spend lent emptying myself.

De-cluttering my thoughts

surrendering my anger and resentments

throwing away my judgments

detaching from worldly distractions

This lent will be about attitudes not actions…..care to join me?

 

Please don’t rush lent….

Lent Cross Email SalutationOh please don’t rush lent this year, I’m just not ready!  

Lent takes work, lent takes discipline, lent takes sacrifice, lent takes energy.  
Everywhere I look I see lent – lenten flyers, lenten blogs, and lenten booklets.
Not quite yet – please!

I need a bit more time….
to think of only myself
to be too weary to pray
to play on the computer instead of read my spiritual books
to say whatever I want without watching my words
TO EAT CHOCOLATE

I’m not ready lent – don’t come too quickly – I don’t want to change
I’m comfortable just as I am

oh,

how I need lent this year!

An Interesting Lent

What an interesting lent this is turning out to be.  To all those strong and disciplined people out there, I tell you this in the utmost humility:  This year the lenten promise that I made lasted a whole 6 days!  I think that this was the shortest thus far in my life!

My lenten promise, what I decided to do, what I thought was best….hmm… and, as usual, God has other plans!  Now, I’m not blaming God for my lack of will power (that chocolate was just too good to resist!),  but as the days and weeks passed, I realized that there is something to learn here, how can I grow from this experience?

First, it teaches me great humility – I’m not in charge and I am not strong enough to ‘go it alone’.  I trip and fall, over my own feet sometimes, and I’m so grateful for the loving arms that always pick me up and hold me as I begin to walk again.

Second, if I am quiet enough then I can hear that tiny whisper which lets me know what I should really be concentrating on.  And, it is always gift, pure gift, not deprivation, although sometimes it may sting a little, like the bright light on a sunny day.

So, what is it for me this lent? 

I remember the cross….I remember the reason for the cross.  He asks me to give to him my  worries.  Fears that have actually become a part of me.  Worries that I cling to.  He wants them, He wants my healing, he wants my wholeness….

Now, that’s really giving something up for lent!

LENT

 L et God be God –  Not letting God be God may actually be the Sin against the Holy Spirit

E very single minute of the day be aware of God’s presence. Practice the ‘present moment’

N othing can separate us from God’s love….

T he First Commandment:  God first…GOD ALWAYS FIRST!

Lent: Which is more difficult?

Is lent more of a ‘give up’ for forty days or a ‘take on’ for the rest of your life?  It may be really difficult for me to give up chocolate or desserts for lent, but come Easter Sunday, watch out!  Back to the chocolate and back to the sweets…and enjoying them with a great sense of pride and accomplishment!

Hmmm…was that transformative???

How about selecting a virtue and ‘taking that on’ for lent?  Humility seems like a good one since it’s opposite – pride – has gotten us all into trouble, beginning with Adam and Eve!

Taking on humility for lent….that’s a tough one, and on Easter, instead of feeling a sense of accomplishment or “PRIDE”, we can feel that perhaps we’ve taken a step forward (and a few backward, I’m sure).  And, our lenten experience will not be over, we will not go back to our pre-lenten attitudes, because we did not deprive ourselves, but rather we expanded ourselves….

We will continue on this journey, maybe a bit stronger, maybe a bit grateful, maybe a bit more humble.

 

Where is your focus this lent?

   What did I give up for lent?  What am I doing this lent?  How am I journeying   through lent and will this season bring me closer to God or will I stay stuck where I am?

As long as I keep the focus on ‘me’ and what I am doing and how I am doing, this lent will not bear much fruit.  I need to concentrate on God, and take the ‘me’ out of this equation.  My desire is to increase my desire, to grow closer to my Creator, to allow him to continue to create me. 

Lent is a time to go deep, to go inside to my center, but unless I recognize that God dwells there, I am still stumbling around in the dark.  He lives in me, and sometimes that is the best hiding place of all. 

Time alone, sitting in silence, letting those thoughts come and go in a most gentle way, allowing yourself to be loved – really loved is the best way that I know of to connect with the Source, God, my lover. 

The world has a problem with silence.  The world has a problem with ‘wasting time’, the world has a problem with God.

Perhaps the greatest discipline that I can have this lent is to allow God to love me….

Why not try this on for lent?

Humility is the ointment for all our wounds”

St. Teresa of Avila

A few days into the lenten season…are we feeling it yet?  Are we craving the chocolate or caffeine that we’ve given up?  Are we staying true to the promise to pray more, read a spiritual book, blog more often?  At the end of the day can we put that check mark of success next to our ‘lenten promise’ ?

Think about this:  If the main reason that I’m doing something ‘extra’ for lent is to prove to myself (or the world) that I am strong, disciplined or a good disciple of Jesus, then, in my opinion, I’ve got it all wrong.  Lent is not about forty days of sacrifice only to emerge proud and victorious, lent is more about the inner work, the transformation, the time in the desert, and often the end result is more anguish than joy. 

St. Teresa said that ‘humility is the ointment for all our wounds’.  What a powerful statement!  Perhaps this lent we should try to develop and practice this most sacred virtue – humility. 

A humble spirit, a humble heart…one only has to gaze upon the cross to see the ultimate humility personified.

The next time I’m feeling the pain from one of my wounds, self-inflicted or otherwise, with God’s help, I will try to ease the hurt with a little humility…..talk about a lenten sacrifice!!!