Those Who Make Room: I admire those who, like Barbara Brown Taylor, can give their full attention to sacred ritual, and still abide in the real world of laundry and garden chores. About Ash Wednesday, she said that she felt a sudden urge to ask for more, more ashes; only to realize that it was not yet her turn for a full taste of death. Apparently, like Paul (and you and me), at that moment she still had work to do. She juggles perfectly, though. Ashes applied, she notes that she still has time for the common courtesies of please and thank you, between her and her God. Only a taste of death… How can I sustain reverent regard while keeping pace with dirty dishes and dirtier socks; Please and Thank you, and Yes, Lord, all in one breath?
I want to give Lent my attention, to recognize that something deep and personal, and earth-shattering is happening in the church calendar of life and death and legacy of sacrifice. I do not want a gimmick—because faith is much, much more than gimmick for getting through our days. I remember the time astute Aunt Ruth, at 89 years of age, told me that she no longer felt it necessary to give up chocolate for Lent. Coming from her, it was delightful discernment, besides the rescue of chocolate! Holding reverence feels less like giving up something, and more like opening up to something, so that whatever matters settles deeper, and whatever is unnecessary falls away from dis-use. Like so many religious observations, perhaps Lent raises more questions than it answers. Sometimes Suffering is one of my questions.
Sometimes Suffering Sometimes suffering might be invitation NOT to be minimized— but perhaps made more PRECIOUS by what it costs to enter in. Pain and sorrow weave a surprising Hora. 'Havah Nagilah;' ribbons of intimacy spool in and out the Godhead as life and death tell their story of who God is. Sometimes suffering might be invitation And we are invited to hold the ribbon? Harsh circumstance strips down the bark of our defenses. Requiem: lay to rest our ill-conceived notions and cling to what is real. jfig March 2021 Barbara Brown Taylor, An Altar in the World, HarperCollins Publishers, New York, NY, p 77. Wikipedia references Psalm 118:24 as inspiration for the lyrics of Hava Nagila; but the whole of the psalm resonates with the intertwining of life and death.
And because it feels scary to leave you with suffering wide open – Blossom
Blossom To blossom takes time slow seasons of steady nutrition infused through slender stems. Fragile. Blossom may mean wait, and while you wait hold open your heart. Your petals will take on astonishing hues of God-love. "Winter" may ask you to suffer hardship of storms attrition: leaves lost to blight and insects, infringement of priorities. Take in the pale delicate notes of that which gives you life. Breath-taking. This is my prayer for you. Suffering is not easy—in any form. In its season you have yet to bloom. jfig 3/2021