Tag Archives: meditation

Good Friday

In 2011, God was silent. I didn’t stop believing, but I was numb. Numb like cold fingers in the middle of winter: on the brink of frostbite. I was terrified of losing the religion, the community, and the language of faith that had been central to my life as a child and young adult. The stillness made me feel unhinged.

Perhaps as a way of coping with not knowing what the future of my faith looked like, I found other practices – other rituals – to fill the void. And in retrospect, the quiet cleared the clutter, opening up space for new ways of thinking and being.

I also read Still by Lauren Winner, a book I’d recommend to anyone feeling existentially lost. I realized I’d been waiting for my faith to return or to grow back to just the way it was before the silence when I should have understood this dark period as part of the path.

There is nothing wrong with feeling numb. There is nothing wrong with stillness. Nothing is lost in the process – you are still you, God is still God (much different and much more complicated than we can imagine, I’m sure), a community is waiting somewhere to love you for who you are, not what you profess on any given day.

Today I feel stable, but not always certain. I feel loved, but I’m not always sure it’s unconditional. But what I know is that living with grace and intention will never be the wrong path. See people and love them anyway. Forgive. Work toward justice. Leave yourself vulnerable to the fulfillment and pain of love.

Advertisements

prayer

A smile between strangers.
Watching the robin hunt
for insects,
folding three loads of laundry, dropping
boiling water
into the teapot.

Writing in your journal, listening
to your spouse, sharing:
a meal, a ride,
Your load.

A cool breeze that cuts
through humid air.
The clack of boots
on asphalt. Going,
and leaving.
Habit and impulse.

Pray without ceasing –
Let this journey be
Your Prayer.

Lenten reflections & goals

tulips

I grew up an Evangelical Christian, though thankfully within churches that provided a broader worldview than strict fundamentalism. Although I don’t recall hearing any explicit anti-liturgical speeches from the pulpit, there was a below-the-surface distrust of liturgical traditions as well as a widespread belief that Catholics weren’t really Christians (though I never understood that). The only parts of the church calendar we followed were Christmas (we also tossed around the word Advent occasionally while not actually practicing it) and Easter.

As I learned more about the founding of evangelical movements in the United States, I came to understand that this separateness – this stubborn individualism – developed, in part, to bring Christianity into the hands and hearts of the masses. I think that’s a good thing. But I also think that throughout the complex and tangled history of Christian movements, we’ve had a tendency to throw the baby out with the bathwater. As an adult now with a wider view of Christian tradition, I see value in the familiarity and routine the church calendar provides. As Advent left its restorative mark on the Christmas season for me last year, I anticipate that Lent, too, can provide opportunity for reflection and transformation. I’ve participated in it half-heartedly for several years, but I’m ready to make a commitment to it practically and spiritually.

Lent is a season of repentance and self-denial leading up to the observance of Christ’s death and resurrection. It is intended to remind us of Christ’s grandiose and restorative act of self-sacrifice on the cross juxtaposed against our own human frailty. We reflect somberly on our fallen state to amplify the grace that arrives daily with the knowledge that Christ is risen indeed.

Lent, it seems to me, is not practiced well if one only considers what one is giving up. My  high school friends from liturgical traditions would give up soda or french fries every year, but could never explain to me the significance of the act. I scoffed at their ignorance when I should have scoffed at my own.

Giving something up, it turns out, is about penitence: it’s not just a project in self control but a strict disciplinary action taken against ourselves, a reminder that we are rowdy and undisciplined by nature.

The vital next step is to realize that giving up bad habits clears up space for spiritual reflection. I’m terrible at meditating on the character of God, on seeing myself as someone in relationship to and with the Divine. It wasn’t always that way; I spent a long time wanting my old spiritual awareness back instead of recognizing that I could progress toward a new and better spiritual life. I’m ready for progress.

This Lenten season, I’m giving up rewarding myself with non-essentials (clothes, books, makeup, etc.) and taking on better spiritual practice. I intend to read more theology, pray more, and intentionally seek out ways to practice kindness and self-sacrifice. I’m replacing bad habits with good ones. I’m filling the void instead of wallowing in it. I recognize my shortcomings and repent from them more fully, I think, when I compare them to the vibrant spiritual life I could live instead.

I encourage you to meditate and reflect on your life in relationship with Christ as you trudge through these final days of winter, as you look forward to the rebirth and joy that arrives with spring.

attend to life

Each minute doesn’t
have to count
but it has to matter

Each waking eye
Each phase of the moon
Each dawn and
rain
it’s bound to come again
but never with
just the same flourish
or shape or pattern.

It doesn’t have to count
but it must be
acknowledged

Each hair brushed
just so, each sizzle
in the pan and
coffee ground and
alarm sounded
it’s the dance and
melody of normalcy
but not mediocrity.

It doesn’t have to count
but it should be appreciated

Each sigh
Each staring at the
wall and
backache and
hangnail and chore
forgotten
it strikes in the cheek
like a sinus headache
but it dissipates.

It doesn’t have to count
but of course it matters

Each daily ritual
Each daily error
it’s a rhythm, cycle,
slow creek in an often
parched wood
but it persists

It isn’t a counted forward march –
It is a sinewy, strengthening web
of rich matter.

walks

virginia field macro heart flowers reaching handtall grasses leaflet carved tree fieldIt seems we’re addicted to walks, at least during this curiously warm week in the quiet days before regular life demands our attention again.

On Monday, I went for a walk by myself to clear my head, twisting and turning through residential roads. There’s been some drama – and some loss – in my circle of friends and I let it get to me. But walking is meditation. You go and you go on your own two feet. You’re tired but you keep moving. You’re farther away than you ever intended to be, but you have the stamina to press on. To compel yourself forward even when your legs grow tired and the sun glares into your eyes as it sets. Walking is uncomplicated, but not necessarily easy. I think that’s the best way to live.