06
Mar
19

3.6.19 … “Mamma mia, here I go again. My my, how can I resist you? Mamma mia, does it show again, My my, just how much I’ve missed you?“

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2019 Lenten Labyrinth Walks (1/40), Myers Park Methodist Church Francis Chapel – Charlotte NC, Myers Park Baptist Church-Charlotte NC, Ash Wednesday, Lenten Practices, List making, kith/kin:

So I’m planning my forty 2019 Lenten Labyrinth Walks and this pops into my head ….

Mamma mia, here I go again

My my, how can I resist you?

Mamma mia, does it show again

My my, just how much I’ve missed you?

And at 10 my Davidson roommate and labyrinth walking buddy calls … she’s already walked at Epiphany Catholic Church in Anchorage KY (near Louisville).

I’ve been wondering if anyone else walks daily or weekly during Lent. With the adoption of Lent by many mainstream Protestant denominations there has been a steady increase of including spiritual disciplines and practices in faith formation.

Lent is a good time to begin a new practice of daily or weekly labyrinth walking. The Rev. Dr. Lauren Artress differentiates a practice from a discipline. She says,

“A practice is more flexible than a discipline. A discipline is usually done at a certain time each day. There are specific methods or techniques to enter into it. The practice of labyrinth walking is guided by what you need from the walk. … Use a labyrinth when it calls you. When you want the benefits of a quiet mind, a prayerful heart, a release from controlling behavior, find your way to a labyrinth.” (Artress, 2006, pg. 6)

At Harmony Grove UMC, where I coordinate the Labyrinth Ministry, on occasions I have issued the following invitation.

Start Something New for Lent

“This year don’t give something up for Lent. This year start something new: the spiritual practice of walking the labyrinth daily or weekly.

Source: Ministry Matters™ | Labyrinth Walks for Lent, Holy Week, and Easter,https://www.ministrymatters.com/all/entry/4736/labyrinth-walks-for-lent-holy-week-and-easter

So what else will I do?

1. I will take 40 labyrinth walks

2. I will use multiple devotionals including the Henry Nouwen book and study guide being used by my church and the Myers Park Methodist Lent devotional booklet.

3. I will attend worship at my church.

4. I will pay attention to what my friends post. And ask questions and respond.

5. I will make 40 lists: Lenten Practices and Disciplines, List of lists, gratitude, labyrinth resources, Lenten devotional resources. (This counts as one list)

With pleasant anticipation, I dressed in my Chartres Cathedral polyester silk like scarf and headed out. “Mamma mia, here I go again.”

As I drove to my labyrinth chosen for Walk 1/40, I received telephone call number two from a friend, which in this case happens to be my sister, informing me that she was walking a labyrinth today on Ash Wednesday. And she sent me a picture and told me that her walk at Eastminster Presbyterian Church in Marietta GA had been, “Very Cold. I walked in one foot in front of the other and out backward. Tricky for me. Had to balance and really concentrate.”

(And yes, even our shadows resemble each other!)

Today’s walk was hopefully going to be in the Francis Chapel at Myers Park Methodist Church, the location of my very first Ash Wednesday walk in 2012. Although I knew that there was a delay in opening this new in door permanent stone labyrinth to the public, I still hoped that I would be able to walk privately today as I did several weeks ago with my friend Toni. But that was not to be; the labyrinth and the chapel are inaccessible due to the continued construction in connection with the installation of the new organ.

So I quickly regrouped and headed to Myers Park Baptist Church.

Today‘s walk was a very sensory-filled walk, especially sounds and physical feelings. I heard a jackhammer, a truck backing up, a worker making a whooping noise which I assumed was to alert another worker of danger, and the chimes announcing 11:30 AM at Queens College. I also noticed the cold as it was about 40°. There was a light breeze in blindingly bright sunshine. I always enjoy walking in and out of the sunshine, and today the sun shining live all but one corner of the labyrinth.

A few other observations… The lost child’s princess headband stuck in the lamp sculpture and the very bedraggled rosemary along the edge.

Toward the end I want, I realized that the breeze a very cool breeze, was picking up and I was actually cold. My hands felt icy cold.

After my luck, I continued on my way to my church First Presbyterian Church at Charlotte which was hosting a lunch at noon followed by a Ash Wednesday a position of ashes service says in the small and intimate Good Samaritan Ben Long Fresco Lobby.

The Lobby is worth visiting ..,

Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan was chosen as the subject of the fresco because it deals with a fundamental question of a center city church: “Who is our neighbor?” It symbolizes the mission of First Presbyterian Church to be a witness “For Christ in the Heart of Charlotte” to the thousands of people who live and work in downtown Charlotte.

Immediately upon entering the front doors of the Fellowship Hall, a dramatic image of the Samaritan bending over a beaten and bloodied stranger serves as an important reminder of the intimate relationship between the teachings of Christ and the work we are called to do. It measures 8 feet high and 28 feet long and is painted in the true fresco style of the 15th century masters.

Source: First Presbyterian Church — Ben Long Fine Art,
http://www.benlongfineart.com/first-presbyterian-church

I sat at the luncheon with Pen Perry, our senior minister. And as with the anticipated, we discussed our traditions around Ash Wednesday and Lent. I was significantly older than anyone else at the table, and my traditions around Lent did not happen until after I was 50 years old.

After the luncheon, we proceeded into the Good Samaritan Lobby which was set up intentionally with Pen being included in the community rather than “preaching” from the pulpit. The service was short and impactful, and I left with the ash cross on my hand. When I looked down shortly afterwards, I realized that the mark had at all but disappeared and all I could see was my very wrinkled and old looking hand. “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust” … Actually this line is not in the Bible, but derives from Genesis 3:19 – “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

After telling one of my children that I had attended an Ash Wednesday Service, he immediately sent me this article. I think mainline denominations are reaching out to nontraditional millennials in both traditional ways reimagined and nontraditional ways in nontraditional places. And funny that my son picked up on this story on the twitter feed of the blogger “Bar Stool Sports” …

If you needed ashes for Ash Wednesday, many churches made it convenient to get it while still going about your normal day’s routine.

On what is a special religious day for Christians, many churches offered “Ashes to Go,” for example, at bus and train stations in the D.C. area, something that is becoming more and more common in today’s fast-paced culture of express delivery, instant meals and live-streaming TV.

In one such instance Wednesday, at the Shady Grove Metro station in Rockville, ashes became available starting at 7 a.m. for those getting on and off their train.

The “Ashes to Go” initiative was launched over a decade ago by an episcopal church in St. Louis. The goal is to pull religion from the pews and bring the Holy Spirit into regular, busy places.

Source: Churches offer ‘Ashes to Go’ for Ash Wednesday at bus, train stations in D.C. area | WJLA, http://wjla.com/news/local/churches-offer-ashes-to-go-ash-wednesday-dc-area

I ran across this article in Presbyterian Outlook recently.

While some Protestants still struggle with what to make of Lent (“Isn’t that a Catholic thing?”), increasingly Presbyterian congregations are seeking creative approaches for making the season meaningful – including giving people opportunities to explore spiritual practices and to bring depth and a sense of community to the weeks leading to Easter.

The practices are varied — from the program Lent 4.5, which focuses on simplicity and caring for the earth; to study groups in which a congregation reads a book together (recent examples include theologian Richard Lischer’s “Stations of the Heart,” about lessons learned through the death of his son, and “Daring Greatly,” in which research scientist Brené Brown explores the value of vulnerability and imperfection); to the exploration of ancient spiritual practices. Last year, for example, Westminster Presbyterian Church in Durham, North Carolina, offered a series of study sessions called “Practicing Life into Wholeness” — exploring spiritual practices including centering prayer, lectio divina and the daily examen.

Source: Lent is for Presbyterians, too: Creative, connectional disciplines – The Presbyterian Outlook, https://pres-outlook.org/2015/02/lent-presbyterians-creative-connectional-disciplines/

And this from my good friend Mary Bowman at Selwyn Avenue Presbyterian here in Charlotte:

In the simplest terms, Lent is 40 days set aside to prepare for Easter – beginning with Ash Wednesday and ending with Holy Saturday (the Saturday before Easter).

Ash Wednesday, also known as the imposition of ashes, derives its name from the practice of placing ashes in the shape of a cross on our foreheads as a reminder that we are temporary beings and it is only God who can conquer death and give the gift of eternal life. In other words, we remember we are finite and sinful (a bit of a mess) and we need God.

Lent, which comes from the Greek word for “fortieth,” is a time for us to focus on our relationship with God and draw closer through self-reflection and spiritual activities such as prayer, meditation, repentance/confession, worship, fasting (giving up something), Scripture reading, serving others, etc. These spiritual “disciplines” allow us to open ourselves to God so we can grow in our faith, in our gratitude for God’s undeserved love, and in our own self-understanding as children of God.

If you are someone who likes to count things, you may realize that there are more than 40 days between Ash Wednesday (March 6) and Easter (April 21). During this serious time of reflection and preparation for Good Friday and Easter, we continue to have mini-Easters (which are Sundays) where we continue to celebrate all the Jesus has done for us. If you are counting the days, the Sundays don’t count because they are an important reminder of the ultimate story.

Source: Our Blog – Lent 101: Let Us Prepare Together, http://www.selwynpres.org/our-blog/lent-101-let-us-prepare-together/

And I must add this:

“Did you not know what the Holy One can do with dust?” I am in a wildly different place than when I wrote those words as part of an Ash Wednesday blessing six years ago, in what would turn out to be my last Lent with Gary. And I can say now: I know what God can do with dust. And I am learning still. As the season of Lent arrives, what blessing do you need to claim from the ashes?

BLESSING THE DUST

All those days

you felt like dust,

like dirt,

as if all you had to do

was turn your face

toward the wind

and be scattered

to the four corners

or swept away

by the smallest breath

as insubstantial—

did you not know

what the Holy One

can do with dust?

This is the day

we freely say

we are scorched.

This is the hour

we are marked

by what has made it

through the burning.

This is the moment

we ask for the blessing

that lives within

the ancient ashes,

that makes its home

inside the soil of

this sacred earth.

So let us be marked

not for sorrow.

And let us be marked

not for shame.

Let us be marked

not for false humility

or for thinking

we are less

than we are

but for claiming

what God can do

within the dust,

within the dirt,

within the stuff

of which the world

is made

and the stars that blaze

in our bones

and the galaxies that spiral

inside the smudge

we bear.

—Jan Richardson

from Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons

Image: “Ash Wednesday Cross” © Jan Richardson

janrichardsonimages.com

Mamma mia, here I go again

My my, how can I resist you?

Mamma mia, does it show again

My my, just how much I’ve missed you?

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust …

3.6.19


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