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?


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?


Eating Chocolate

Tuesday of the First Week of Lent

How’s your Lenten resolve going? Did you begin the day, as I did, “This is only the first week of Lent?

“And how many are there?


Ah, yes. Six. Just be glad you’re struggling with behavior changes rather than giving up chocolate. Have a piece of chocolate. It might get you through the day.

Once more, the reading today begins with Isaiah: “For just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth…So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.”

Oh, oops. Remember that slip of the tongue? That complaint? The voiced frustration? Or perhaps someone said a harsh word to you. Remember your reaction?

Our thoughts and our words achieve the ends for which we send them.

Now there’s something to ponder for the day.

We so often think of prayer as being something formal, or for asking help or healing. What if your prayer thoughts and words were as simple as stopping for a moment and breathing? Just breathing? Or smiling at someone?

I’m big on looking out windows. When I need to calm and feel peaceful, I stand or sit and look out a window. I observe when I’m looking out a window, but I rarely “send” words or thoughts.

What helps you become conscious of your words and thoughts? What are your prayers, intentional or unintentional, sending out?


Judging Laws

        Monday of the First Week of Lent

This morning’s reading is from Leviticus. the Book of Laws. In fact, 27 chapters of laws.

That’s a lot of laws!

And I pondered how often one or two laws from that book get pulled out and emphasized to the exclusion of all others.

That’s often what we do with religion: we scrape off the piece we want and leave the rest behind.

For example, throughout Leviticus, the injunction to “fear God” arises. People say it a lot, but I always wonder what that means. “Fear God” because of possible punishment? Possible destruction? Why would I want to follow a God who promised destruction and punishment?

Perhaps, I though, my idea of fear was misplaced. Perhaps it meant something. These Leviticus laws were written thousands of years ago, perhaps as many as 5 or 6 thousand. So I looked up the word “fear” in my trusty American Heritage Dictionary which led me to the Indo-European root per (Indo-European being the earliest root of many languages).

Per, as you might imagine after all these centuries, has a developed into many words, but at base were movement words, including to walk all the way around as if you were walking around a mountain. I like the idea that “fear God” means to walk around God, to look at God from many angles and many different sides. To see the Holy from many different perspectives.

If we really saw the holy from many different directions, it might be hard to judge others for their behavior.

Today, practice looking at others’ behaviors from many different angles. Today, notice where an automatic judgment arises.

Is it difficult to substitute looking for judging?


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.