Just in time for the time of change… Time changed. Lent-change-time
Is it really possible to make substantial change in this 40 days?
it’s hard to tell without beginning – minds ravage with debates about the brain patterning necessary for substantial change like the dull buzz of the 24 hour news cycle with Facebook and Google running in the background while Alexa finds a meditation app on demand. Logic attempts to derail Lent. It won't work - some things don't change.
Experience overrides debate Lenten change takes time Deliberate and conscious decisions to “make the next right choice”
Refusing to be numbed with wisdom from the smartphone bluelight Lent expects us to go in and dig a hole in the soul So a seed can be planted. The seed of “faith” gets planted when We dare to unearth the compacted doubt and Ask those questions that it’s easier to sedate with solitaire. The seed of faith is planted in the midst of doubt Why? How? Where? Who? God is bigger than our questions and creates Spring resurrection out of seeds planted in mud nourished with time. The first week of Lent. Time to dig deep in the earth of the inner landscape and to be willing to believe It’s never too late to begin again
And so, I begin -- Lent change
My gratitude list with my rules: 1. 8 things a day 2. Written on a piece of paper 3. No repeats Gratitude and despair won't live together... It’s never too late to begin again, Although there is a “drill Sargent” that lives inside my head Whose commanding voice would like me to believe that Lent won’t really change anything. I fire him for Lent I won’t know until I begin. And the first thing I have to do Is Believe.
We each have a fingerprint; a distinctive mark of presence a lasting impression of the labyrinth of loving and living a map of the history we hold and the hope we build
From a long line of mystery-bearers, "Women of the Incarnation: Elizabeth, the mother of John Anna, the mother of Samuel the nameless mother of Samson Eve, the mother of all the living The Hebrew Scriptures heroines who were the types of Mary: Ruth Judith Esther Miriam the Queen of Sheeba" (from a talk given by Madeleine Sophie Cooney, RSCJ)
They each left their fingerprint on the history of Incarnation. Each one, a story of becoming a story of listening to the whisper of God a story of responding, despite the costs a story of the time of gestation -- totally turned to the Mystery within-- a story of the being present while this child of wonder left their fingerprint on the story -- our story of the world.
This is the day of the fingerprint of Mary-- This is the day of coming to term -- with who we are and how we are. This is the day of letting the contractions of our lives lead us to the fingerprint that we contribute to the story-- our story of the world.
Mary's fingerprint -- to be held in the empty manger of our hearts.
We have arrived in Bethlehem ...this Bethlehem. The Advent of Now.
Reverence A lost art A lost commodity defining the experience of the tribe of Joseph
Joseph man of confidence, integrity and resilience standing in the face of popular judgement and righteous indignation at his moral courage. Invisible witness? Passive participant? Illusive and invisible? Hardly. For we know that it is those of distinction with the courage to act while others speak who change the course of history. It is not merely the notable record-holders on whose shoulders we stand
It is the men of the tribe of Joseph Those who know the anguish of standing against the politic in lieu of the need to stand your ground. Those who know what it means to reverence -- to define the future by honoring what you know deep inside your gut is the only right answer. To give honor to the one you have pledged to love -- which doesn't mean tolerance.. To reverence is to see God's action in the other and to be the one who honors the space in another where God's action thrives with the care of another.
Joseph Man of Vision Knowing scarcity he lived from abundance Knowing social rejection he created community Knowing the cost he acted with fierce intention Knowing the options he chose reverence Knowing ... he chose love
Light one candle for Hope Hope for those who gather with us Hope for those without hope Hope for those alone Hope for those who battle illness of body, mind or spirit Hope for ourselves that our faith might be greater than our fear
Light one candle for Peace Peace in our hearts Peace in our homes Peace in our cities Peace in our church Peace in our world
Light one candle for Joy Joy-hearts open to receive Joy-hands ready to share Joy-bearers ready to be the stained glass window through whom the Grace-light shines Joy-holders that we might see the darkness in another and hold the candle towards the light Joy-watchers as we await Emmanuel "God With Us"
Light one candle for Love
In this week of Love Let us be love good news for those in need of love in-deed right action justice for those forgotten family for those alone hope for those who despair food for those who hunger in body mind spirit. Let us be love And light the candle of love for all God's people
Then... Let us light a candle for peace and be the peace in the lives of others
Let us light a candle for hope and bear the hope in a world yearning
Let us light a candle for joy that we might bring delight to others.
Let us light a candle for love that we might be those about whom others say, "See how they love one another" That we will be a beacon of light for others to follow
Bless us, O Lord and these Thy Advent gifts which we are about to receive
"When they rolled back the stone, they found that the tomb was empty"
...it began with an empty manger...
It begins and ends in emptiness. -- and yet, we spend so much time filling the void instead of seeing the void as the space where what matters is born and lives in our midst in ways that we could have never imagined... in the breaking of the bread and the sharing of the cup of life.
It begins and ends in emptiness and yet, we find ways to escape the void and numb the pain of not knowing -- not being sure -- not being enough-- instead of seeing the empty tomb and the empty manger -- in the forgiveness; in the not reciting the hurts of the past or the absence of presence in presents-- in the invisibility of wanting to escape and the desire to compare instead of compassion-- in the illusion that the present measures instead of the presence
It begins and ends in emptiness or is it fullness? the fullness of a heart on fire the manger ready to hold the one whose spark ignites something that we can't find on social media the manger of our lives, the one built in our hearts with the steady plywood of daily living in love and pounded together to hold something new. for in the empty manger of our hearts will arrive the promise of God.
The manger is empty and so is the tomb.
Something new is about to rise up To arrive in our Bethlehem hearts... if there is room
Today, the shortest hours of daylight Tonight, the brightest stars at night From the well of darkness, looking up, the stars are brightest. It requires the night to see the light.
"Help me be Your Brightness, Lord"Ps 60:19
I have a star that guides me...
I still don't know how it happened... That I became 'Brightness' and he became 'Lite' But, it just was that way. Together, we forged a way of walking together through the dark. I was there when the top of the corporate mountain left him empty and searching for the light. Not the child of youthful dreams and eager expectation, I was the child of the elder years -- where dark and light co-mingle into real. He was there when the Way that became my Way was through the dark instead of around it.
Father and daughter, but partners in the quest for what matters. In the presence of others, always a banter and a debate. But when it was just Brightness and Lite, there was sacred silence. Long car rides in silence of presence. Lingering afternoons on Woolworth Ave in Omaha, my knowing he was on a journey towards the light. And this journey was one that I could not be in the drivers seat. Knowing my mother was there already, made it the Bethlehem of new life. I lingered in the silence of searching and he became the Star of Light.
After he died, I discovered what Brightness means and the Star that leads. It's the crisp moment when glaring, glistening sun emerges in blinding light. There is my star of Bethlehem, the Brightness of Light that leads me -- that leads each of us.
"Help me be Your Brightness, Lord"Ps 60:19
Finding the solstice Star to Bethlehem of the heart. This is the Advent of Now.
I am the star we followed you, Star we, the shepherds who saw something we could not ignore the pull of gravitational certitude in the face of despairing economy and unyielding governmental force.
I am the star we followed you, Star we, the astronomers of both lore and history To see what would be revealed by what cannot be understood with reason alone but with the open heart changed in the simple act of friendship with those who were in enemy camps.
I am the star. We followed you, Star we, the animals -- the lamb, the oxen, the donkey who live from the instinct of knowing rather than the complexity of understanding. We followed what we could feel to the place where hope rests
I am the star. We followed you, Star through the valleys of time, leaving behind what we knew to be counted and to count on one another in this journey of listening to dreams following calls and being willing to discover what lies ahead in the heart of Bethlehem and Bethlehem of the heart.
I am the star. Up in the sky and deep in the heart the Brightness that awakens you in this Advent of now.
Look up. Look Within. Look around.
I am the Star. Your Star for your safe journey to the stable.
I am the Star.
Star lite, Star bright First star I see tonight...
Steadfast Love Strength Simplicity Patience Compassion
"Behold, I bring you good news"
I am the angel I go before you I am there before you arrive. I am not the fear I am the peace. I am not the anxiety I am the calm. I am not the one you run from. I am the one you stay close to. Steadfast Love Strength Simplicity Patience Compassion I am the angel
"For Nothing will be impossible"
I am the angel In my presence you stay. In the presence of the spirit of darkness you run away. I go before you so that when you arrive you are not alone. I walk the walk. Grace defines me Confidence upholds me Truth surrounds me Conscience emanates through me Steadfast Love Strength Simplicity Patience Compassion I am the angel
"Do Not Be Afraid"
I am the angel I close the deal. I open the door. I direct the way unknown. I walk in when others walk out. I push you through when the reserves are gone. I show up and you know that I am there. I speak and your heart believes while your mind deliberates and leaves you doubting. But you know better. I am the kindness that you didn't expect. I am the truth that you didn't know you had forgotten I am the tenderness that you didn't know you needed. I am the love you can't do without. Steadfast Love Strength Simplicity Patience Compassion I am the angel.
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace to those on whom favor rests"
I am the angel the gift of now the Advent of this time with gifts to be unwrapped in the people and places of this moment. Even the cranky ones and the traffic jam and the crowd at the airport monastery and the over-excited child and the frenzy of "not enough" I am the angel of the inside peace the calm in the midst of the storm the halt to traffic in your head the heart that opens unexpectedly. I am the miracle that is waiting to remind you "Do Not Be Afraid" I am here I am the angel.
On Woods Avenue in Lincoln, Nebraska in a house way too small for seven people, but full of the stories that make a house a home.
Christmas Eve, where as a blended family (both my grandfathers had been raised Protestant — one converted and one resisted) — traditions on the farm ran strong from first generation cultures of preservation and remembrance. Never quite so evident as Christmas Eve. Suet Pudding, Carols, Chili for supper and Midnight Mass —
Gifts exchanged between each member of the family, one by one to savor the few in number and the deliberate action of things made by hand and those purchased with the hard work of labor done with diligence, sweat and often tears.
Before gifts, a Christmas pageant where every child had a part and the day of the Eve was spent in practice upon practice — to tell the story of the manger.
Youngest and least stage ready, I was assigned to the role of the docile lamb.
Resistance to compliance was early fashioned in me, as I initiated my emergence from the box of the expectations of others.
“I don’t know anything about being a lamb” I told the four older directors “and there isn’t a good outfit” (it’s all about the outfit) — “but I know about cats. I will be a cat” (I had a ‘super cute’ cat outfit from Halloween).
Knowing the slim likelihood of molding me into something I perceived was illogical and unworthy, they relented, but clearly defined my role, “Then you will have to be a cat that acts like a lamb. Lay there and listen — don’t move or say anything”
That’s how I learned the story of the lamb.
I learned to be a lamb by being a cat. Showered in the silence of being a lamb listening...watching...becoming the little lamb of Bethlehem
I am the lamb I am the little one. I am not the sheep following the shepherd by voice and smell. I am the lamb small, vulnerable, needy and hungry. I am the lamb creeping softly, almost without knowledge under the hay following something inside of me that keeps leading me towards a magnetic force that both directs me and leaves me free
I am the lamb soft, gentle, newly born and unknowing I am the lamb eyes closed and trusting the light from within to lead me in a direction that I cannot see and yet I have the vision that can be valued more than gold and trusted more than the wisdom of the stars. I am the lamb seeking my way to the center of things in the middle of the mess in the circumference of simultaneous chaos and peace.
I am the lamb showered in the silence of something magnificent that draws me here with clarity and courage in the midst of my fragile start-up state. I am the lamb here in this stable beneath this empty manger surrounded by the hay listening to the lilt of the oxen the voice of the shepherd and the distant sound of a donkey laboring beneath a load.
I am the lamb drawn here in this time in this place waiting for what I cannot see. Believing what I do not know. I am keeping watch warming the place for I am doing something that without me would be left undone. I am here now. I will wait. I will warm. Showered with Silence I will love I am the lamb.
It is the law of the prairie homesteader the lessons learned by our family of the land from the plains of South Dakota and Nebraska to the rolling orchard of Oregon
the land was never worked alone "take my yoke upon your shoulders" the yoke that broke the land always had room for two... the oxen shared the load broke the land carried the burden and never held the yoke alone from then... until now we learn the lessons of the journey into the Advent of Now.
I am the oxen. the yoke has room for two sharing the load the impossible becomes possible Grace enters and the work becomes lighter the load becomes bear-able the journey is shortened I am the oxen
I am the oxen who was not summoned to the stable by angelic tone but to give witness to the power of travelling together: to be and act as one sharing both the load and the harvest as we discover new frontiers on our way to the stable ahead of us. I am the oxen.
I am the oxen I am here on the road to the stable to remind you not to walk alone. For this is the road where the new begins the road where the old ends. Walk together to the stable Share the load of love to the stable. Expect the Miracle.