Looking Back on Lent

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Tonight we enter the Paschal Triduum:  the three service days of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter.  They are worship services of awe and mystery; they move from table, to tomb, to frail whispered “alleluias” from women, and finally to the great acclamation:  ”A

If you’re new here, you may want to subscribe to my RSS feed. Thanks for visiting!

Tonight we enter the Paschal Triduum:  the three service days of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter.  They are worship services of awe and mystery; they move from table, to tomb, to frail whispered “alleluias” from women, and finally to the great acclamation:  ”Alleluia! Christ is risen!  Christ is risen indeed!  Alleluia!”

These services bid us to embrace the passion of God’s Lovingkindness through the pathos of a painful narrative.  At the end of the journey, the Table may taste different to you; if you enter the tomb, the alleluias return might seem more glorious and the lilies smell more fragrant.

The power of a great story is that it is “timeless;” the “actors” may change and the staging may be revised, but the story remains powerfully evocative.  (Think of the many ways that “Shakespeare” has been revisited.)  If we enter this narrative through these services, we will might find connections with the story we live now.  In so doing, we may find strength and companionship to exit our tombs, too, and rediscover resurrection for ourselves.

But first, linger a little longer in Lent.  Throughout the season, and as is often the case, I have used revised pieces of poetry as prayers and liturgy.  Poetry often flips a linguistic lense to help us see what is sometimes blurred before our eyes; it can give breath to our yearnings.  What follows is a revisit from our Lenten liturgies.

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Spiritual Nourishment in Grammar

Several times in Lent, I noted my fondness for the “ellipsis” (the “three dots” that indicate a continuation or missing thought).  I like the “space” it creates: a leaning posture for hope to steady us.  A space for intentional reflection and reorientation.  A gulp, before the plunge.   I edited the following prayer-poems to draw out the “ellipsis space.”

Wait, Wait on Our God (Jan Berry, alt.*)

When the land is dry and barren, reduced to degraded dust…wait for God to restore life, bringing growth from our emptiness.   Wait, wait on Our God, keep vigil and keep faith…for hope comes in the morning.  When we are numbed with grief, raw pain breaking the monotony…wait for God’s tender touch, bringing comfort for our healing. Wait, wait on Our God, keep vigil and keep faith…for hope comes in the morning.

God of All Humanity (Linda Jones, alt.*)

O God, in a world full of fear…open our hearts to your love.  Though we walk in desolate valleys…open our minds to your hope.  As we seek paths in the darkness…open our eyes to your light.  In every circumstance…may we be open to your Presence, O God of love, hope and light.  We turn away from hatred…and turn towards love.  We turn away from intolerance…and turn towards understanding.  We turn away from oppression…and turn towards justice for all people and the planet.  As sisters and brothers, we commit ourselves to compassion…together, not alone.

Pollen Awareness

Without really passing through winter in Atlanta, spring sprung suddenly.  The pollen count hit new records; often near 10,000.  Many were miserable.  However, and not to be trite or pollyanna, there was a gem hidden in the stone (or clarity in the yellow cloud).  Perhaps through watery eyes, the pollen pointed to a beauty; it increased our awareness of the transformation that was happening all around us.  We could not help but notice.  For me, that is a critical part of life’s journey: mindfulness and awareness.  There are gems hidden in the stone and beauty always abounds.  The Presence is a constant companion.

Hope and Solidarity    (Annabel Shilson-Thomas, alt.*)

O God of sojourners and pilgrims, giver of light and truth to guide our way, deal graciously with all who look to you for help.  Uphold us in your love and fill us with your grace, that we may open our eyes and find you in friends and strangers.  Guided by your mercy, may we be joined to one another in solidarity, that we may become members of one body and work in hope towards your realm where peace springs from justice.

Chinook Psalter (vernal equinox), alt.

O Source of Life, may we be touched by grace, fascinated and moved by your creation, and energized by the power of new growth at work in your world.  May we move beyond viewing this life only through a frame, but touch it and be touched by it, know it and be known by it, love it and be loved by it.  May our bodies, our minds, and our spirits learn a new rhythm paced by the rhythmic pulse of the whole created order.

And, finally, two seasonal lights…

“Lent” comes from English words that mean “lengthen” (as in the lengthening of days).  The formula for setting the date of Easter and then Lent is connected to the vernal equinox, the first day of spring.  The Wisdom of the ancients place the liturgical journey to correspond with when the “day” overcomes the “night.”  After they are “equal” (on the equinox), the light lasts longer than the darkness of night as we enter the vacated Easter tomb.  As during our Advent-Christmas-Epiphnay journey, Lent and Easter center on our journey with the Light.  The following poem-prayer and quote have been lights for me during this seasonal journey.

Refuse to Fall Down (Clarissa Pinkola Estes)

Refuse to fall down.  If you cannot refuse to fall down, refuse to stay down.  If you cannot refuse to stay down, lift your heart toward heaven, and like a hungry beggar, ask that it be filled, and it will be filled.  You may be pushed down.  You may be kept from rising.  But no one can keep you from lifting your heart toward heaven—only you.

From Mother Teresa

We may wonder whom can I love and serve?  Where is the face of God to whom I can pray?  The answer is simple.  That naked one.  That lonely one.  That unwanted one is my brother and my sister.  If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.

*Where indicated, the pieces of poetry (alt) are from Let Justice Roll Down: A Worship Resource for Lent, Holy Week & Easter, compiled by Geoffrey Duncan.

Read more http://whereheartandmindmeet.ccuccatl.com/2012/04/05/looking-back-on-lent/

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