Archive for the ‘Spirituality’ Category

Doing Lent

March 28, 2017

“What are you doing for Lent?”,  someone asked me the other day.  I replied, “Nothing”. I tried for several years to “do” something for Lent.

Some years I tried giving something up. We give up something as an act of solidarity, as an act that remembers Jesus’s suffering. But, honestly, giving up chocolate or candy or coffee really doesn’t compare to what Jesus did. I felt like I was trivializing Jesus’s passion. If you find giving something up for Lent a helpful spiritual practice, don’t let me dissuade you. I just didn’t find it helpful for me.

Some folks I know add something for Lent. Extra prayers, extra giving. I could never make it all the way through Lent- and really it’s just 40 days. If I’m honest, I’m probably just lazy. Or lacking in self discipline.

Some people use Lent as a time of self improvement. They go to the gym regularly. Stop smoking. Eat healthier. For me that just made Lent a “do over” for New Year’s resolutions.

As I said before, if you find any of these practices helpful- don’t listen to me. Keep doing what you find helpful.

As we spoke about Lent, we wondered. Instead of doing something for Lent, what if we let Lent do something to us?  What might that look like? What if instead of doing, I was to receive?

I’m not exactly sure what that looks like. Letting Lent do something to me. But the idea seems right. Our salvation and our faith are not something we “do”. They are things we receive.

So I am wondering what letting Lent do something to or for me might look like? I don’t know.  What might happen if I walk through the rest of Lent with eyes and heart open to receive? Will Lent do something to me?

I wonder. . .

Saving My Life

March 7, 2017

“Come tell us what is saving your life right now?”

Barbara Brown Taylor in her book, An Altar in the World, tells of being asked this question. It is a question I think about. What is saving my life right now?

I have to say between our national life and the cloudy winter, most days I want to stay home with my cats and a good book. But like most folks,  I need to figure out how to get up, go out and do what I need (and love) to do. To do this for the long haul, I need to know and nurture the things that save my life. I’m not talking about making a list of things I am  grateful for, although I am grateful for these things. The things that are saving my life are practices and habits that keep me grounded and hopeful.

Worship, as always, is saving my life. There is something life giving and affirming about being in worship with other people. To speak and sing and pray together in the presence of God is life giving.

Spiritual formation and spiritual direction are also life saving. I am part of a small group of women who meet regularly to talk honestly about our spiritual lives. These wise, caring, and thoughtful people help me think honestly and sincerely about my spiritual life. Spiritual direction allows me focused time to recognize where and when God has been at work in my life.

Daily prayer  and daily silence saves my life. Morning and evening I pray using the Book of Common Worship, Daily Prayer.  This practice keeps my prayers from becoming small and self focused as each morning and evening the thanksgivings and petitions lift up different situations and people. The practice of silence helps me listen for God might be saying to me.

Good work is life giving and life saving.  I work with college students. Spending time with them and seeing their faith, honesty, compassion, and joy remind me that the future (and the present) are in their good kind hands.

Cats and reading, in other words, knowing when to stop working and when to stop engaging the news. Intentionally spending time curled up on my couch with my cat and a  book is good for my mental well being.  My cat Peppy sits on my lap, purrs and looks adoringly at me.  When I adopted her from the shelter I saved her life and now she saves mine. And a good book, I don’t have to explain that do I? Long term engagement, at least for me, requires regular disengagement.

These are the  intentional and regular practices that are saving my life these days. Honestly they have been saving my life for years.

What is saving yours?

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