Reflection, sacrifice, longing, and grief are at the core of Lent. Let us begin with reflection.
As we sat at an outdoor cafe, my heart was drawn into a time of reflection. This cafe was one of the last places my late husband and I enjoyed eating while visiting our son and his family. This day we were celebrating our family’s February birthdays: our son, our daughter, and son-in-law. It was a joy filled time with grandkids playing on the restaurant’s playground and adults laughing and sharing stories.
But my eyes were drawn to the table where we sat several years ago with our much younger grandchildren. My reflecting began. Where would we be this Lent? What would we be doing together this Lent? Would we be giving something up together?
My personal reflection continued.
What is Lent, really?
What does it mean to experience the journey Jesus took toward the cross in our 2018 world?
What do I really “give up” for Lent?
What do I need to give up for Lent?
Who cares what I give up for Lent?
What does the world need to give up?
What does the church need to give up?
What do out false selves need to give up?
Then I was hit with, “so what?”
What difference does Lent really make to our lives, our churches and our world?
Our invitation this week is to reflect on the “so what” question of our Lenten journeys.
The seminary, where my late husband taught for over 35 years, established a scholarship in our names and dedicated a room in his honor. During the program dedicating the room, several people spoke of him and the different ways he had been present in their lives.
Many themes evolved, but the most consistent description was of how he walked with colleagues, students, and friends in times of darkness, depression, doubt, and confusion.
I know that he, like so many of us, was able to walk with them during times of darkness because he walked there himself.
Our dark/shadow sides have much to teach us.
Shadow work is not easy. It releases the content and power of our “imperfections.” This exploration can range from being uncomfortable to devastating. But ironically, it is on this honest and vulnerable road that we have the chance of being lifted into our deepest humanity and fullest self and other awareness.
On this Ash Wednesday, we are invited to go within ourselves and to walk with each other as we enter the shadows of Christ’s Lenten journey.
January is National Mentoring Month. It is inspiring to read the stories of children and adults whose lives have been dramatically changed because of the relationship they share with a mentor who walks with them. One of our Board of Director’s shared a story of a mentoring program that includes whole families mentoring. Thank God that many professions and schools are recognizing that we are enriched by having companions on our journeys. The Apostle Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:11, Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing. This has been the foundational scripture for Ministry Mentors since it began over 18 years ago.
The need to be affirmed and challenged hasn’t changed. How we seek a mentor and how we communicate may change, but the need has not changed. We need our mentors no matter the vocation or age. The following video clip between a seminary student and a seasoned pastor says it all.
Perhaps sometime before the end of January, give your mentor a call or e-message to let him/her know how much they mean to you.
If you are a pastor seeking a mentor, simply go to www.ministrymentors.org and let us know.
A friend of mine posted a poem by Clarissa Pinkola Estes entitled, We Were Made for These Times. Her message is convincing; we have the resources to make the differences that need to be made in our world today.
One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul… struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it.
Stand up and show your soul.
In Advent we light candles often using the words: Love, hope, peace, and joy. They can be common words we use during Advent, they can make for fun family tables, and they can be meaningful liturgical rituals.
I wonder if they can also become a gentle way of showing our souls.
Sometime before Christmas simply sit in silence with each word. Love Hope Peace Joy
When we become these, we are enough, and have enough to be the light that shows our souls in our stormy world.
Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world within our reach. Any small calming thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good.
Do you look forward to a piece of chocolate, a picture of a cuddly, furry kitten, or a tiny Lego toy? If you are my 6 year old grandson, the answer is a resounding YES!
On the morning of December 1 at 3:00 a.m., he rushed into his Mommy and Daddy’s room with an intensity of expectation that could only be met with,
“No, it is still night time. You must go back to sleep and wait until your clock says 6:00 a.m.”
To contain and change the energy and force of a young child eager to see his surprise is nearly impossible. I could go into all kinds of parental advice on how to deal with early Advent risers and affirm the affects it has on the whole family as crabby and tired people try to navigate the day, but I really don’t have much to advise.
But it makes me ponder how long has it been since I’ve experienced the force of the anticipation of a surprise? What will be the surprises on my Advent Calendar this year? Will I look to a well-known theologian for daily inspiration? Will I journal each morning about my life to see if a surprise reveals itself? Will I reflect on the ducks on the pond that I walk around each morning as I notice how steady paddling affects the water? Will I find time to notice another’s tears? I wonder if I will truly be open to the force of the anticipations in Advent.
For sure, I’m going to buy a calendar that has chocolates! Shalom,