Sunday, February 28, 2010

A mother's breast

I still find comfort when I lay my head on my mother's breast, and I know this is not true for everyone. Abraham calls God "El Shaddai," which may be translated "Breasted One." There is a place for all to suckle at God's breasts.

The lectionary Psalm for the past few days has been Psalm 27, and I was struck by this line (as rendered in The Inclusive Bible):
Even if my own parents reject me, you, YHWH, will accept me (Psalm 27:10).

And in the Luke text, Jesus laments,
"O often have I wanted to gather your children together as a mother bird collects her babies under her wings." (Luke 13:34)

As I write this, I am listening to worship music by Steve Iverson and Michael McCarty:
"In the heart of God, calm and quiet is my soul, as a little child, resting in its mother's arms."

May all who feel rejected - my LGBT friends, youth struggling with depression, people suffering in Haiti and Chile and around the world - be gathered beneath God's wings, be comforted at her breast, where there is more than enough room and more than enough food and more than enough acceptance for each and every one of us. Amen.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Lenten intentions

I entered into Lent this year in a sick body, stressed mind, and overwhelmed schedule. I thought that perhaps trying to add one more obligation, that is, a Lenten discipline, would not be spiritually edifying but rather would just add more stress to my life. This morning, with my health returning, I am reconsidering that idea.

In my early 20s I began attending a church that followed the liturgical calendar and the lectionary. It was like a whole new world opened to me. There is something deep and rich and moving about taking part in the rhythm of the church year, participating in practices that have sustained the body of Christ for generations upon generations. I LOVE the seasons of the church year. And perhaps it isn't entirely coincidental that I discovered all this in New England, where the seasons of spring, fall, winter, and summer are distinct as well. I know that the liturgical calendar wasn't invented in New England, but it could have been. Advent, the season of darkness, seemed especially poignant when the sun set at 4pm. Lent lasted through the toughest part of winter, when the cold and wet appeared endless. Easter was a reminder that spring was indeed coming, if it hadn't already. The green of ordinary time could be seen all around in the glory of summer. While these seasonal changes can be harder to notice in Texas, I have now accustomed myself to the rhythm of the seasons, and I look forward to the revelations each year brings.

In my childhood church, anything that appeared remotely Catholic was discouraged, so all I knew about Lent was that it was something my Catholic friends did, and I judged them as hypocrites for having visible ashes on their foreheads and being open about their Lenten disciplines. After all, Jesus said to do our good deeds in private, right? My grandmother liked to refer to that idea while telling us, her family, about the good deeds she had secretly done. I never brought up that it was no longer a secret once she told us!I think there is something to sharing our intentions for spiritual growth. The electronic age sometimes makes it seem impersonal, but there is community here, both with people I know and, perhaps, some I do not.

So, this Lent, I am naming my 2 intentions:
1) Read the daily lectionary passages using this schedule, based on the Revised Common Lectionary.
2) Write a blog reflection twice a week. (I did not fulfill this intention, but I did take time to write and reflect every week)

My hope is that these practices will be life-giving and centering, and that they will help bring some focus and integration to my rather scattered life. May it be so.

If you are a Christian, what are your Lenten intentions this year? Blessings be upon you, dear friends, in whatever spiritual and physical season you find yourself.