Lenten thoughts halfway through the season
When I preside at the Holy Eucharist during the season of Lent, one of the prefaces for the service states, “ You bid your faithful people cleanse their hearts, and prepare with joy for the Paschal feast.” The feast we share at the resurrection of our Lord and Savior. Asking for the forgiveness of another is one way I can cleanse my heart and make room for Jesus in my life. When I seek and ask for forgiveness I am freeing up space in my heart and mind for all the good things God has in store for me. When I remain caught up in nursing old grudges and hurts as well as dwelling on the ways I have hurt others, God is crowded out and I am not living the life He has set out for me. Mired in the pain of the past, I can not live in the present or prepare for the future. Lent reminds us we are to shed those things which keep us from having a full rich life; the life God has intended for each and everyone of us.
A new discussion group began Tuesdays and our first book was "The Good Book: Writers Reflect on Their Favorite Bible Passages" the conversation has been lively. What was brought to the group was a vast array of thoughts and questions regarding the reading for the week. The story I found interesting was "The Womb and the Cistern Well" the story of John the Baptist imprisoned by Herod. What we all discussed was how John must have felt knowing that he was in all likelihood going to die. That he had his doubts about who Jesus was and asks that famous question: "Are you the one or are we to wait for another?" We all agreed being John was not easy. He had worked and toiled in the community to bring people to God only to have his power given to another. Was is given willingly? The writers of the gospels would us believe yes but human nature would have to say otherwise.
I think about this in terms of our own needs to be recognized and wanted. It is not easy to give up control and power for someone else. We all think we are irreplaceable and John's story tells us we are anything but.
It has been far too long between posts, I wish all who read this blessings in 2016. As often happens at the turn of the calendar, we begin to think goals and dreams for the new year. Many of us start with good intentions but, unfortunately life gets in the way; suddenly all of our optimism is gone, leaving us with the same thoughts and behaviors we so desperately want to change. Yesterday I came across a review of Marie Kondo's new book " "Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up" which is a follow up to her wildly successful book "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up." I read the first book and was intrigued by her thoughts on what makes for an organized happy life.
Her discussion of how we treat our things and our homes while for some is odd, I find it inspiring. Kondo suggests when we return home, we tell our house we are happy to be home. Say it out loud! We thank everything we use for what it has done for us throughout the day. She contends we keep nothing that does not spark joy, hence the title of her second book. I was oddly comforted by the notion of thanking my things. So often I rush around without reflecting on how fortunate I am, although I do tell my car, the "Green Hornet" that I love her.
Kondo forces us to come face to face with what we have and how gratitude does not have to be a laborious or rote exercise. But, one where we pause and give thanks for all that is in our lives which gives comfort and stability. I feel calm just reading those few paragraphs at the end of her book and perhaps this is one small change I can make to bring serenity and happiness to my home. Her idea is one which make for a happy life: simply giving thanks for all that I have.