What Was That Again??

Saturday of the First Week in Lent

This morning, my freshly-made up, no-hair-out-of-place,

not-a-morning-person self left the house by 8:30 a.m.

So if you opened your email this morning ready for morning meditation, I’m sorry. I went missing.

This morning, I went downtown to a Screen Actors Guild/AFTRA meeting. Television performers and movie performers are voting this month to merge their two unions. The main reason is that as one union, performers would have better bargaining power with the monolithic entertainment entities with their streaming/movie/television/ internet/etc etc etc capabilities. Two old powerful unions are trying to work together to move into the future because the new powers in entertainment are playing one set of performers’ contracts against another union’s set to in a race to the bottom of the pay scale.

This afternoon, I watched a news story on MSNBC about a high-school Valedictorian who has applied to Yale with a 6.7 GPA (I didn’t even know 6.7 was possible!) but who is facing deportation to the country of her birth, Colombia. She entered the United States when she was three years old. And the United States has a Congress that cannot see fit to approve the Dream Act for young people brought here as children if they go to college. What kind of a travesty of justice is it in a country that prides itself on justice when young people who by all accounts are Americans, highly effective Americans, are deported because of backward thinking politics?

These two small stories, amid stories of towns torn apart by tornadoes and families torn apart by a young and troubled shooter in Ohio and a national political party troubled by women’s contraceptive issues, testify to our time of instability – chaos even.

The past and the future are banging up against each other with increasing fervor and the broken chunks of society are rising ragged in the rushing springtime river.

And in the gospel reading, Jesus says, “love your enemies, pray for your persecutors….”

I don’t doubt that reading these examples raised some kind of ire in you. On one side of the issue or the other. Not that the time of Jesus was any cakewalk with Roman crucifixes lining the roads into town and back.

Besides turning off the news and isolating ourselves from the world (is that even possible???) what can we do to hang onto our resolve to stay at peace, to avoid fault-finding or sarcasm or disdaining words or abrupt anger? What are we to do in this crazed time?

God’s sun rises on the bad and the good,” Jesus says; “the rain falls on the just and the unjust…”

i.e. it’s not ours to judge but to observe, to witness.

Already, corporations have pulled advertising from the radio talk show; already a consensus grows, people from both political parties, conservative and liberal, that we aren’t turning women’s health back to the 1950s.

What miracles can grow if we are able to witness, to write the email or the letters or make the phone calls, rather than judge or yell?


Your Brother’s Keeper

Friday of the First Week of Lent

“You are your brother’s keeper,” is one of those lines that can choke us.

And yes, we are.

In other words, our human relationships are as important as our spiritual ones.

In today’s gospel reading from Matthew, Chapter 5, Jesus teaches his disciples about the importance of human relationships. It’s not enough to be like the Pharisees, a select brotherhood, “admitting only those who, in the presence of three members, pledged themselves to the strict observance of Levitical purity,” according to the Jewish Encyclopedia. Jesus indicated that all are our “brothers” and all deserve reconciliation.

It’s like The Pointer Sisters sang, so many years ago, “We are family….” all the sisters and brothers.

Sometimes relationships have to end. That’s clearly so. But we do not have to cut that person our of our hearts. We can still reconcile from our feelings of hurt or betrayal and remain separate physically.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean whatever happened is okay. We don’t have to let hurt back into our lives. Forgiveness and reconciliation means we clear our hearts of the hurt so we can live clearly. Forgiveness means we can put down the heavy yoke of judgment and breathe.

Which yoke do you need to remove from your shoulders?


The Cowardly Lion

Thursday of the First Week of Lent

Today, I’m thinking about courage.

Not the courage of heroes, but the courage to just live each day with a modicum of kindness.

When I speak about kindness, I mean kindness to myself by not whining as well as kindness to others. My husband and my son, the two alpha males whom I love in this house, have both had bronchitis, one following the other, and I’ve been kind. And cooking chicken soup (literally) and making sure they take appropriate meds. They don’t like medications. And doing, at various times since they’ve both spent time in bed, the various chores that three people in a house usually do. I’m whining.

The Lenten reflections are a way to connect on a conscious level with my God-self. And of course the message is that this simple, repetitive and disciplined act of looking at the readings and writing about them teaches me the importance of the connection to that deeper place of spirit. Sometimes I struggle against the discipline and sometimes I don’t. Sometimes the courage to keep writing comes from knowing you are reading. You comment. You say the Lenten reflections are important for you. Thank you.

Courage to just keep going, whatever it is we’re doing or faced with, is worth having.

Be mindful of us, Holy One. Manifest yourself in the time of our distress and give me courage….  Esther 12

Queen Esther asked to keep going in order to save her people, and she was putting herself in a dangerous situation to do so. Rarely does our need for courage ask us to put ourselves in harm’s way.

Ask for the courage to keep going in these days of stress. It’s just stress – just keep going. To continue with what we have set in motion – because we all have things we’ve set in motion. Sometimes what we’ve set in motion is negativity. And we know we need courage to change that! And sometimes we need courage to accept and recognize what we have set in motion, through our thoughts, words, and deeds.

The courage to keep going is the same courage of daily practice is the same courage to look at our darknesses and, day after day, lift them from our minds.

I love the word courage. It always makes me think of the cowardly lion, holding his tail tightly, and saying to Dorothy, the Tin Man, and Scarecrow – “Courage!”

Courage. What gives you courage?


Goals and Lists

Saturday after Ash Wednesday

Today is quieter than yesterday but then I’m awake early and sirens aren’t calling danger!

At least not in our neighborhood.

Another line from Isiah has caught my attention today:

If you remove from your midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech…Then light shall rise for you in the darkness.

What that says to me is remove the oppression and worry from my own mind.

I can take this time to remember what it is that calls me to this spiritual life anyway. It’s always the same thing: being comfortable in my body, trusting my life, being at peace.

Today, this moment, is a good time to renew my goals for this Lenten season: maybe it’s a good day for all of us to remember and renew our goals.

Our community is focusing on healing this Lent. What needs healing in your life? What do you need to do to reach that goal?

Make a list. Choose one goal. Practice it every day.


Lent’s here

It’s 3:30 a.m. on Wednesday, so it’s officially Lent. I didn’t mean to be up in the middle of the night, reading, catching up on the news sites, but I am. It’s quiet. I always appreciate the quiet of the Lenten season, the withdrawal to an interior space.

Shortly after I decided to live in Mexico some years back, Lent arrived. I remember being awake then, too, in the middle of the night, several nights in a row, as a matter of fact. I’d rented a house in the village of Tepotzlan, outside of Mexico City, a village famous for its cohete factory I’d learned after paying rent – a cohete being a very large, approximately three to four feet long bottle rocket about five inches in diameter. It made a very loud bang right over the house, the house being near the center of town.

Every night until eleven or so, for the few days I’d lived in the house, cohetes went off and every day dancers danced to a constant drumming in the market square. Brinca, they called it: the dance of jump, straight up and down. And they wore masks of the conquistadores. And capes. But closing down festivities at eleven at night was manageable. You can still sleep after eleven o’clock. But on Tuesday night, Fat Tuesday, the explosions went on. It will all stop on midnight on Tuesday, I kept telling myself.

I lied. It didn’t stop.

At two a.m. cohetes still exploded over the house; at three, four, five, erupting overhead in a frenzy of celebration. Finally, as dawn began to break in the east and tinge the tops of the trees, the explosions fell silent. Suddenly. Sun equaled silent.

It was an experience, as they say. By the next Lenten season, I’d left the village and moved to Mexico City. Oddly enough, a quieter environment with church bells replacing cohetes, but I will never forget the entry of Lent into the village life of Tepotzlan.

May you have some quiet time, this Lenten season. We all need it; life’s been ratcheting along again, we lose track of way too many things/moments/ideas. A friend asked what I was giving up for Lent this year, and I finally figured it out: I’m giving up abruptness and moving too fast.

And cohetes. Yes, I will give them up, too.