“I don’t believe in an outside agent that creates the world, then walks away. But I feel very strongly there is an intelligence at work in every flower, in every blade of grass, in every cell of my body. And it is that intelligence that, I wouldn’t say created the universe. It is creating the universe. It’s an ongoing process.” – Eckhart Tolle
“The end is the beginning of all things, Suppressed and hidden, Awaiting to be released through the rhythm Of pain and pleasure.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti
With a long slow spring, I assumed that I’d be pulling a few dead shrubs in the front yard. And then suddenly and surely, the green popped from beneath and the old dead petals are weakening and falling off, saying good-bye. When we think it’s over, it’s really the beginning. Follow, embrace and hold to the seasons, cycles and rhythms. They remain whether we remember or not. They remain.
The buds, spring push through to take their place, to take the baton from winter and hibernation. We have a lot of spring and summer ahead. Let the light in, no questions asked.
Hope over fear.
Love over hate.
Joy over despair.
Light over darkness.
Peace over turmoil.
Kindness over spite.
Empathy over self.
Generosity over hoarding.
Ease over struggle.
Silence over noise.
Confidence over questioning.
Awe over indifference.
Deep over shallow.
Us over me.
Mystery over understanding.
Gratitude over complaint.
Rest over tumult.
Acceptance over shame.
Sweet over bitter.
Wonder over knowing.
Awake over sleep.
Slow over rushed.
Heaven over hell.
Present over past.
Present over future.
All is overcome today.
Resurrection over the Cross.
The playbook for living today already written.
The last word.
Knees to ground.
“No pain, no palm; no thorns, no throne; no gall, no glory; no cross, no crown.” – William Penn
As we enter this Holy Week from Palm Sunday to Good Friday to Easter, this Lent 2020 will be one to be remembered forever as we’ve walked it out through the bearing of our own crosses of a worldwide pandemic. Fear, uncertainty, stress, boredom, “unprecedented times” for our time at least.
I’d like to say that I’ve spent the last 40 days studying the Bible, in hours of praying the rosary. I haven’t. But I have felt God’s presence daily rather than just on Sunday’s for an hour. Much of the time has been spent reflecting on me and my life to now and where it should be, in dozens of meetings to keep work going and planning for the other side, clearing clutter and preparing the house for painting so new floors can be installed and getting outside a lot with the dogs. In sum, the past days have been about me and the impact of COVID-19 on my life and those who I love.
Self-reflection is the point of Lent. To look within, take inventory, be quiet, reflect, repent, forgive, embrace and prepare for the third day of resurrection, of becoming a new person, our best self that already exists and is being called out to play and stay. The “end-game” of Lent is to die to self and to accept the grace and mercy of the cross, of resurrection and new life. To let go of old ways, to strengthen our compassion, forgiveness and empathy muscles to flex them with the world like never before. To realize that we are and always have been held and carried by God. In carrying our own crosses, we get but a glimpse of what Jesus accomplished and offered up by dying on the cross for us. Now that’s really living out Lent.
This Lent has been our own collective invitation to enter silence, let go of fear and control, to change our priorities, to love deeper and hug longer. In boredom, in struggle, in loneliness, in the desert, we are being transformed, the cocoon to butterfly, the seed to bloom, from thirst to hydration. And just as winter always turns to spring, Lent always turns to Easter. Resurrection, changed, new and never to return to our old selves. Muted colors become brilliant. Flowers more fragrant. Gratitude for what already is within us deepened.
This has been a holy, sacred season. Reflect on the lessons during this Holy Week, read the passion of Christ – from the last supper, to 30 silver coins, to being denied by his best friend three times followed by the cock crowing, to the agony of being nailed to a cross. And 3 days later, the stone rolled away from the tomb to resurrection. We are truly living out Lent this year on this journey. And as we grieve the dying to our old self, prepare to be overwhelmed with the transformation to who we are meant to be – Easter people, filled with hope, love, trust, joy and faith.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30
“Do you realize that Jesus is there in the tabernacle expressly for you – for you alone? He burns with the desire to come into your heart.” – St. Therese’ of Lisieux
“We give glory to You, Lord, who raised up Your cross to span the jaws of death like a bridge by which souls might pass from the region of the dead to the land of the living. We give glory to You who put on the body of a single mortal man and made it the source of life for every other mortal man.” – St. Ephrem of Edessa
The international treasure, historic 850 old Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was consumed by fire yesterday. As the fire settled and smoke rose, the cross remained. One image summarizing the end of the story of Holy Week, the hope of Easter.
As we go through our own Last Suppers and suffering of our daily crosses, remember that the end of every story is always Easter. The cross always remains through the fires of hell. Hope remains. Always. Cling to hope no matter what you are going through now. The third day comes, resurrection and new life from ashes.
Smoke rises around the alter in front of the cross inside the Notre Dame Cathedral as a fire continues to burn in Paris, France, April 16, 2019. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/Pool
“In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.” – Albert Camus
We often think that we are done with something, it’s over, and then it comes back again. Sometimes finishing takes a bit longer and it’s more of a circular rather than linear path.
We allow outside circumstances and people to limit and control our own outlook, keeping us from seeing the full beautiful, complicated view. Our outlook begins and always remains with what’s inside. We own it. Our view of the world is in our hands not others so stop trying to pass off the responsibility of ownership.
Kids have their Ph.D. in a joyful perspective, and so many other areas as well – multidisciplinary to be sure. They know how to suck the most out the present moment and simply engage in possibility.
It’s the second week of April, the start of Spring. And, yep, one more round of winter. From 50s to snow, ice and cold. When visiting my nephew Liam yesterday, I asked him if he wanted to build a snowman. It took 10 seconds for him to rush the closet in search of his boots. And being the sweet, intuitive guy that he is, he handed me a hat from the hat bin before he put on his own to ensure I was prepared for this adventure as well.
And thus the launching of a special memory and actual fun amidst the “catastrophe” of winter’s return. We can flip our perspective in but a minute and turn our winters into “invincible” summers by doing the opposite of our natural inclination to complain. Dive in and make some fun.
Snow? Go build a snowman. Rain? Go dance in it. Sun? Go soak it in to refill your inner light.
Winter, again? Preparing for the brightest of Spring blooms. Start budding.
“Spring is nature’s way of saying, ‘Let’s Party!’”— Robin Williams
“The flowers of late winter and early spring occupy places in our hearts well out of proportion to their size.”— Gertrude S. Wister
It always takes longer than we want, but the snow always melts. Winter releases into spring inviting the flowers to awaken and work their way through the frozen ground. With a slow and steady thaw, the gifts of spring unfold and ensue. Suddenly the birds are singing with glee and nature awakens to a new season inviting us to join the party. Winter bids adieu making way for spring to make its long anticipated entrance.
Many gifts appeared for the girls this week as the sun did it’s work on the thaw revealing a few dozen balls, bones and toys trapped by the grip of last bit of ice. A bouquet of balls and confetti celebration welcoming long days ahead to soak up the sun, chase balls and delight in outside endeavors.
We can even enjoy winter while going through when we trust that spring always awaits our arrival in due time, filled with the promise of transformation and celebration of fruition. Winter builds resilience, spring is the reward. Let’s party.
“In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” – Genesis 3:19
Ash Wednesday – the beginning of Lent, the seed planted that over 40 days transforms our winters to springs. If we allow, we are called deep within to reflection, waiting, listening and reconnecting to our deepest self and God within. To search and find lasting value and meaningful joy that the world will never fulfill. A deep joy and contentment that remains and lingers through the roller coaster of life.
Like New Year’s Day, (without the hangover), Ash Wednesday is the first day of a journey of possibility and promise through reflection and repentance. A time in the desert of contemplation of how to become our best selves, to find that person hidden inside our impatient, busy and chaotic daily life of doing more and getting less.
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust – from beginning to the end. What am I doing and who am I becoming between the ashes of birth and death? Seems worthy of 40 days of focus and reflection leading to the resurrection of Easter.
“Earth teach me to forget myself as melted snow forgets its life. Earth teach me resignation as the leaves which die in the fall. Earth teach me courage as the tree which stands all alone. Earth teach me regeneration as the seed which rises in the spring.” – William Alexander
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” – Hebrews 11:1
As the snow continues to pile on and winter lingers, beneath the insulation of the snow lies the earth quietly preparing for spring. Preparation, waiting and anticipation are fundamental to the seasons in our life to unfold as they always do in due time.
We grow weary in the waiting and must insulate our minds and hearts from the blustery winds of negativity and fear. We know spring comes yet we get caught in a winter-mindset. A bad day turns into a “bad” life. A snapshot into the photo album. A scene into an entire movie. We turn temporary bumps into insurmountable mountains.
We long for change and then fight it when it arrives. There’s comfort and safety in the familiar to be sure. And yet that yearning inside incessantly whispers to us that we are made of more than we allow ourselves to be.
Insulation keeps the cold out but it also breaths so we don’t suffocate. In order to enjoy each day, no matter the circumstances, we need to be porous, letting the fresh air in and keeping the stale, cold air out. We need a Tigger mindset in an Eeyore world, with a spring in our step and spring in our heart.
Never let anyone’s opinion or narrow view define your life. Each of us is called and expected to define our own life, make our own way, help others along their journey and become our true self in the process. No matter where you are at or how old you are, you can always change your perspective, outlook and path.
“If nothing ever changed, there would be no such things as butterflies.” – Wendy Mass