PEOPLE WHO EXTEND COMPASSION to us are guardians of our soul. These are people who see us, understand us, value us, and celebrate our homecomings. They offer us the inestimable gift of revealing to us the truth of who we are – we are worthy of love even in our shame; we are held with love even when we forget it; our beauty is beheld even when we feel blemished; though our journeys leave us broken and burdened, we are and remain thoroughly beloved.
Ever-present God, thank you for being here with me right now. In the chaos of my life, I often forget that you are always with me, always seeking to bring me peace.
People demand so much of me and my time. I face the requests of others, the needs of others, the expectations of others — always others.
I have so much to do and so many responsibilities resting on my shoulders.
I feel overwhelmed, as if the world around me is a heaving, crashing sea, and I am adrift in a small boat, unable to keep the waves from closing over me.
Only you can bring order out of this chaos. Say the word, All-Powerful God, and I know the seas will be calmed and that I will be safe. I know this — yet I’m afraid to let go of the tiller and trust you.
My mind skitters around my many concerns: What if something doesn’t get done? What if someone is angry with my actions? What if…?
Even as I say these words, I can hear how foolish they are. You, the God of my life, are also the God of order. Bring order to my life, and in doing so, take care of all those concerns that rise up around me like stormy waves. Calm the seas of my busyness; still the waters of my “doingness.” Let me drift on the gentle swells of your love and care. ….
Thank you, O God, that the same hand that stilled the waters holds my hand.
GIVING UP SOMETHING for Lent is a familiar tradition for many, a variation on an old and rich tradition of self-denial known as fasting. … Maybe you know people who approach the season of Lent by giving up chocolate or coffee or another indulgence and then follow through with that intention until Easter. The idea of giving up something – usually a personally meaningful practice or custom – for Lent has become one way to fast during the season. The reasoning behind this ancient tradition focused on ways to develop openness to God. …
This Lenten season I invite you to break from the usual custom of fasting or other form of self-denial and, instead, to fast from apathy. That means you set aside all your noncaring attitudes and move closer to the caring love of God. Even in its mildest form, apathy is a spiritual illness. The cure for apathy is also a spiritual one. … We must move from prayer to action.
IF WE PICTURE all the obstructions between us and God as a wilderness, Lent presents us with time to clear and cultivate a part of that wilderness, to create an open space in it. In this newly opened space, we may live more freely and commune more closely with the divine. We can transform this wilderness and make it our home, our garden, a place that invites God in and asks God to stay.
LENT IS the forty days before Easter (excluding Sundays) during which we turn our attention to God and the things that keep us from God. Lent begins with Ash Wednesday. continues through Holy Week, and ends at Easter.
Lent is observed differently in different traditions, but it is generally a time of turning toward God and turning away from things that separate us from God.
Many give something up during this time, I would suggest that you also add something (help your neighbor, help at a shelter or kitchen).
WE ENTER PRAYER with our whole being. When we talk to God we employ our thinking faculties. Good thinking may lead to good theology based on biblical study. As we listen to God, we give thought to what we hear. So, of course, we use our heads — and more. We love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, our whole being. We pray with head and heart, our whole selves in communion with our Maker.
Simeon, called the New Theologian, was a prolific writer and teacher of prayer around the year 1000. He founded a monastery and also spent years in silent retreat. He warned against prayer that is only in the head. Instead, he said that the mind should be in the heart. We pray from the depths of the heart, enjoying the love of Christ.
FOR ME, a retreat is a time set apart to be reminded of God’s presence in a deeper way. It is a time to remember again that God holds the world and me. It is a time to relax into God’s sovereignty and to remember God’s activity, not my own. It is a time that restores the rhythm for me between work and rest. As I think on it, for me retreat is extended Sabbath.