The Last Thursday Before the Last Sunday Before Lent

O God, who before the passion of your only-begotten Son
revealed his glory upon the holy mountain: Grant to us that
we, beholding by faith the light of his countenance, may be
strengthened to bear our cross, and be changed into his
likeness from glory to glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God,
for ever and ever. Amen” (The Book of Common Prayer).

Mardi Gras is in 5 days (as is my birthday– hint, hint). Ash Wednesday is in 6 days.

That means I’ll be taking my usual sabbatical from social media for the next few weeks until Easter Sunday.

I’m actually looking forward to it this year more than ever. Not so much because of all the negativity (although there has been plenty of that lately) but more so because of all the extra time I’ll have to have actual face-to-face conversations with friends, do some reading out of actual books, watch movies, or just sit and contemplate in silence.

I recommend taking a social media break from time to time. It helps clear your head. It’s like a periodic reboot of your PC that helps reset and reorient your thinking when it’s gotten off track.

I’ll still be doing my blog posts as usual and keeping you updated on all the latest shenanigans in my life (as well as the ongoing saga that is the life of one Lucy the Wonder Cat).

I have some books lined up to keep me occupied, including hopefully rereading some Tolkien in the very near future. I’m still taking requests for good new/old music/movies, and books to check out, so keep sending them my way.

Who knows? Maybe I can manage to meet one or more of you at a nearby coffee spot for one of those face-to-face conversations? You just never know.

 

 

A Pre-Lent Lenten Prayer

“A lenten prayer to avoid entitlement from Richard Rohr:

‘Maybe we all should begin our days with a litany of satisfaction, abundance, and enoughness. God, you have given me another day of totally gratuitous life: my health, my eyes, my ears, my mind, my taste, my family, my freedom, my education, clean water, more than enough food, a roof over my head, a warm bed and blanket, friends, sunshine, a beating heart, and your eternal love and guidance.

To any one of these we must say, “And this is more than enough!'”

Ok, I know we’re not quite to Lent season just yet. I realize that Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday are two weeks away (and Mardi Gras just happens to fall on my birthday this year, which is neat).

Still, this applies to any season of the year or of life. Gratitude is the gift that never goes  out of style and never becomes obsolete. Joy is as much of an art and a discipline as it is a gift because while it’s free, it takes effort and stamina to fully realize and appreciate it.

I should probably at some point tape these words from Richard Rohr to my bathroom mirror so that they are the first thing I see when I wake up. Or maybe I should post them somewhere I will see them AFTER I’ve had that all-important first cup of coffee.

I need reminding often of how blessed  I truly am. It’s easy in a culture that promotes dissatisfaction and envy to look at all that’s missing from my life and all that I don’t have. That can lead to despair.

Joy starts with being content with such things that I have already. Gratitude is the way we see God’s provident hand everywhere working in everything. Even on Mondays.

 

 

A Beautiful Borrowed Lenten Prayer

Nouwen

 

I found this Lenten prayer from Henri Nouwen when checking my email. I’m subscribed to a site that sends me a daily quote of his because I am a huge fan of his writing. This one spoke powerfully to me and echoed my own thoughts better than I could ever express them. It seems very appropriate for this Ash Wednesday.

“The Lenten season begins. It is a time to be with you, Lord, in a special way, a time to pray, to fast, and thus to follow you on your way to Jerusalem, to Golgotha, and to the final victory over death.

I am still so divided. I truly want to follow you, but I also want to follow my own desires and lend an ear to the voices that speak about prestige, success, pleasure, power, and influence. Help me to become deaf to these voices and more attentive to your voice, which calls me to choose the narrow road to life.

I know that Lent is going to be a very hard time for me. The choice for your way has to be made every moment of my life. I have to choose thoughts that are your thoughts, words that are your words, and actions that are your actions. There are not times or places without choices. And I know how deeply I resist choosing you.

Please, Lord, be with me at every moment and in every place. Give me the strength and the courage to live this season faithfully, so that, when Easter comes, I will be able to taste with joy the new life that you have prepared for me. Amen.”

I could only add that God would give me the discipline to take the time I normally spend on social media and use it to delve into His Word and not just read words but to have my mind and heart transformed by what I read.

 

Some Things I Found While Randomly Surfing the Net

“Keep a clear eye toward life’s end. Do not forget your purpose and destiny as God’s Creature. What you are in His sight is what you are and nothing more. Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take nothing you have received . . . but only what you have given; a full heart enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice and courage” (St Francis of Assisi).

I still can’t help thinking about the Ash Wednesday Mass at St Philip’s that I attended Wednesday. I’d like to say that I was brave enough to go down front and receive the ashes and the sacraments, but I wasn’t. I stayed in the very back and observed everyone else going forward, but I couldn’t make myself go. Even though I didn’t know another living soul there, I could have gone, but I chickened out.
It was still a beautiful service. To have the visible reminder of just how serious sin and its consequences are on your forehead is to remember the terrible price it took to pay for that sin. To receive the sacraments is to remember that it took a broken body and shed blood for that sin to be paid for.
I know I’ve sinned in the area of things left undone. I’ve sinned by listening more to my fear than to my faith. I’ve been more concerned about pleasing those around me than pleasing God. I’ve sat down when I should have stood up and walked.
But I also know that I’m forgiven. What I deserved, death and hell, fell on Jesus, and what I didn’t deserve, life to the fullest and grace overflowing, came to me and those like me. All I can do is be thankful and show that same grace to others who need it, too.
Since this is Valentines Day, a.k.a Single Awareness Day, I’m throwing in some wise words from a woman who epitomized grace and style. These are wise words to live by:

“For attractive lips, speak words of kindness. For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people. For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry. For beautiful hair, let a child run her fingers through it once a day. For poise, know that you never walk alone” (Audrey Hepburn)