Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mardi Gras

Today is known as Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday.   Some like to think of it as a time of partying before the great fast of Lent; however many people who celebrate Mardi Gras see little religious significance to the day.  As for me, I believe our attitude about special seasons and our reflection on the event is really important.  I see nothing wrong with having a glass of wine or a special meal on the evening before Ash Wednesday.  The gift I long for, though, is moderation.  All is to be done with mindfulness and  joy.  Even the scriptures tell us not to look gloomy when we fast.  (Mt 6:16)

Because I live in a monastic community "Fat Tuesday" has also become for me a time to discern my Lenten resolutions.  How do I want to make this season a time of growth and renewal.  What would I like to add or subtract from my life?

In the Rule of St. Benedict, the chapter on Lent begins as follows,  "The life of a monk ought to be a continuous Lent.  Since few, however, have the strength for this, we urge the entire community during these days of Lent to keep its manner of life most pure and to wash away in this holy season the negligence of other times."

Before Lent begins we are asked to choose a spiritual book to use for reflection during this season.  Having recently been reminded that my new book, Abide: Keeping Vigil with the Word of God, would actually be a good book to use for the Lenten Season because it consists of 40 scriptural meditations,  I almost chose my own book.

However, as I continued my discernment I was drawn to Meg Funk's book,  Lectio Matters:  Before the Burning Bush.  I would like for this season to be a deepening of my love for this ancient monastic prayer that is thankfully being restored in our monasteries and beyond.  

In a sense, Lent is a standing before the burning bush of transformation and renewal.  I would like to be caught up in the fire.   And so tonight at our Mardi Gras Party I will don my mask and in the midst of the fun will also use the moment to ponder who I really am under that mask.   


Monday, February 13, 2012

The window's gifts

Each day we receive valentines from the Source of all Life.  
This morning, on the vigil of Valentines Day,  I went to the window 
to check out my new valentines.
They were waiting for my grateful presence:

a snow covered branch
a leaf clinging to the ledge of the window
a woman walking her dog
the dance of the tree branches
the glistening silver sky
the new day.

And of course 
there are other windows 
and other days
always offering valentines.
So let's receive! 

It's a good practice,
a lovely morning ritual 
for almost any day.

The valentine Pooh Bear, Piglet and I 
would like to give you
is the gift of today
No matter what the weather,
receive today.

“What day is it,?" asked Pooh.
"It's today," squealed Piglet.
"My favorite day," said Pooh.”

Friday, February 10, 2012

Claim the beauty of the Night

Dear God,

We give thanks for the darkness of the night where lies  the world of dreams.
Guide us closer to our dreams so that we may be nourished by them.
Give us good dreams and memory of them so that we may carry 
their poetry and mystery into our daily lives.
Grant us deep and restful sleep that we may wake
refreshed with strength enough to renew a world grown tired.

We give thanks for the inspiration of stars, 
the dignity of the moon
and the lullabies of crickets and frogs.
Let us restore the night and reclaim it as a sanctuary of peace, 
where silence shall be music to our hearts
and darkness shall throw  light upon our souls.
Good Night.  Amen.

--Michael Leunig, A Common Prayer Book
Collins Dove 1990