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Posts from the ‘Lent’ Category

Field Trip

“Just as treasures are uncovered from the earth, so virtue appears from good deeds, and wisdom appears from a pure and peaceful mind. To walk safely through the maze of human life, one needs the light of wisdom and the guidance of virtue.” – Buddha

“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” – Buddha

On our daily trip to the dog park yesterday, the girls and I wandered outside of the fenced area to the open field to wander through the maze of frozen cattails. The girls took off as fast and when they realized that they were out of my sight, they would loop back to check on me and to make sure that they still had permission to take the “field” trip. Permission granted with a smile and wave.

With great abandon, weaving, exploring, dancing, flying, all senses in play and at play.

Today is the first day of the week, the first day of the month and marks the meteorological spring. On the cusp of a new season, change is becoming more apparent. Change is always happening but it takes attention and awareness to see it, to enter it with joy and abandon. Each day is a blank slate, a white canvas to fill with colors.

This morning upon waking, I began writing an email in my head as I planned the activities for the day. After five minutes, I stopped the swirl and returned to the field yesterday with gratitude for a beautiful weekend and plans for a glorious day ahead. When we observe our thoughts, what field trip that they are taking us on and decide if we want to take the trip, we can break old patterns, stale reactions and respond with intention and attention to transformation and metanoia, a change of heart resulting in a change in way of life.

You write your own permission slip daily. Stop asking others for permission. Stop making excuses. No past. No future. Just now. What will you do and where will you go on your field trip today?

“To share out your soul freely, that is what metanoia (a change of mind, or repentance) really refers to: a mental product of love. A change of mind, or love for the undemonstrable. And you throw off every conceptual cloak of self-defense, you give up the fleshly resistance of your ego. Repentance has nothing to do with self-regarding sorrow for legal transgressions. It is an ecstatic erotic self-emptying. A change of mind about the mode of thinking and being.”― Christos Yannaras, Variations on the Song of Songs

A Listening

“A LISTENING – Going through Lent is a listening. When we listen to the word, we hear where we are so blatantly unliving. If we listen to the word, and hallow it into our lives, we hear how we can so abundantly live again.”— Kneeling in Jerusalem by Ann Weems

When the answers are hollow, listen to hear the hallowed;
Speak less, listen more;
Listen to understand rather than to respond;
Be open to a new space of possibility;

I discovered Ann Weems work through listening to Amy Bost Henegar, who I discovered on Insight Timer. When we search with an open mind and heart, one thing leads to the next, connections begin to form and sense-making follows.

May we all be open to listening, changing and growth on our joyful journey to Bethlehem and the difficult journey to Jerusalem. Oasis and desert. Living and dying. Winter to spring. Renewed and strengthened.

“THE WAY TO JERUSALEM IS CLUTTERED – The way to Jerusalem is cluttered with bits and pieces of our lives that fly up and cry out, wounding us as we try to keep upon this path that leads to Life. Why didn’t somebody tell us that it would be so hard? In the midst of the clutter, the children laugh and run after stars. Those of us who are wise will follow, for the children will be the first to kneel in Jerusalem.” — Kneeling in Jerusalem by Ann Weems

 

 

 

22 Years Ago

“Lent comes providentially to reawaken us, to shake us from our lethargy.” – Pope Francis

“The days are long, but the years are short.”― Gretchen Rubin

22 years ago today on Wednesday, February 17th, 1999 I went to 7:00 am Ash Wednesday mass at the Cathedral of St. Paul. When I arrived to work, I had a voicemail from my doctor’s office. The Friday prior, I had a biopsy taken of a mole on my right arm, so I was assuming the results were in. On Friday, she said, “don’t worry, it’s probably nothing.” When I called back, the nurse said I made an appointment for you on Friday. “You have melanoma.” Cancer. Hard stop. I blew off the rest of the day – it took a cancer diagnosis to finally take a day off.

She said I was getting an in-office wide excision (cut it off, a few stitches, move on). When I arrived, the doctor said that there would be no in-office procedure but due to the size and speed of growth, he would need to do surgery to go deeper and check if it spread to the lymph nodes. Three weeks more. Super, more waiting. The only time that I cried during the entire experience was when I went out to the waiting room and told my family that I needed surgery and looked into my Dad’s eyes. He aged 10 years in an instant. Both of his parents died of cancer, so I knew where he went.

The day of the surgery, they put dye in my arm and took pictures for an hour to see if any lymph nodes “lit up.” Three buggers did so full surgery on the arm to dig deep in the mole area and underneath the arm to remove three lymph nodes. Happy ending – caught just in time, no spread, no chemo or radiation. Move on, check in annually every year for five years.

Transformative moments of diagnosis, loss, transition, change, detours and sharp turns demand a hard stop to reassess perspective and priorities, inventory how, who and what we spend our time on and if we are living with intent, purpose, from a place of deep gratitude. If we don’t stop, we miss the blessings, steeped in the burdens alone. We can also make hard stops without a diagnosis to ensure we are not straying off the gratitude trail. Pause each day to reflect, take inventory and stay awake to the gifts of ordinary miracles and blessings. When we pump the brakes, the hard stops are less hard.

22 years ago wasn’t the last hard stop, but it did ground me in gratitude and optimism, although I wander off regularly. 2020 wasn’t my “worst” year or will it be our last hard stop. If we allow, hard stops from difficulties can be wake up calls, so no year can ever be completely written off. Woven through burdens and struggles are blessings and light that become apparent with time and distance. Knowing that allows for joy to enter daily, no matter the circumstances.

Life is happening for us, not to us. 22 years ago, at the end of Lent, 40 days in the desert, I was cancer-free. The promise of spring was different that year and spring has come every year since without fail. It will continue to come at the end of each long winter without skipping its turn. Do not forego the time between ashes, cross and resurrection. Each day is holy, sacred time. From Ash Wednesday to Easter, walk the path, experience the depth of the journey, allow a peace that passes all understanding to enter and sit next to you, holding your hand. Never alone, from ashes to resurrection, winter to spring.

“Lent is a time of going very deeply into ourselves… What is it that stands between us and God? Between us and our brothers and sisters? Between us and life, the life of the Spirit? Whatever it is, let us relentlessly tear it out, without a moment’s hesitation.” – Catherine Doherty

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