2.26.20 … “Everything has a crack in it. That’s how the light gets in.”

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2020 Lenten Labyrinth Walks (1/40), Ash Wednesday, 2020 Labyrinth Walks, The Cathedral of St. Philip-Atlanta GA, Driving Mama Lindsey:

I’ve mentioned this before: Presbyterians were slow to adopt the liturgical calendar and until the late 1980s there was no mention of Advent or Lent in my southern Presbyterian churches. But now they are. (See below for a 2005 article). And generally we are encouraged to take up spiritual practices. I have 3: Daily Lenten Devotional ReadingsLenten Labyrinth Walks, Lenten List making.

Before heading out today, I made my first Lenten List.- Ordinary Blessings. Last night I found this in America Magazine:

Source: Before Lent, count your ordinary blessings | America Magazine

This is the last week in Ordinary Time for a while. Next week, believe it or not, Lent begins. But let’s not leave the graces of Ordinary Time too quickly. As many liturgical scholars will point out, the term “Ordinary” comes not from the idea that the days are uneventful or boring, but that the weeks are “ordinal,” that is, counted, from the first week of Ordinary Time to the 34th week. Still, it’s not hard to connect ordinary time with the days outside the great feast days of Easter and Christmas, as well as the liturgical seasons of Advent and Lent. And ordinary times are indeed more “ordinary” than those days and seasons.

This week might be a good week, then, to think about the ordinary blessings in your life. Maybe that could be a focus of your Daily Examen this week.

Source: Before Lent, count your ordinary blessings | America Magazine, https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2020/02/24/lent-count-your-ordinary-blessings

… so in preparation of Lent here is my first list.

Ordinary Blessings

1. Health

2. Family

3. Dogs

4. Friends

5. Education

6. Safe travels

Around noon, my sister and I ventured out. My sister and I took my mother to the dentist for the umpteenth time, and today she received her new and improved upper dentures. And they look glorious and seem to fit very well. It is nice to see her smile.

After the dentist appointment, we drove to the Cathedral of Saint Philip where my favorite church labyrinth is located in Atlanta.

I have walked labyrinths 40x during each of the last 8 Lents. And today I began again. So after taking my mom to the dentist with my sister to get her new dentures, we headed to the Cathedral. I promised my mom I would bring her for a wheelchair walk. So she and my sister waited in the car while I walked.

What had started out as a beautiful day had turned blustery. And as I walked, a very slight drizzle began. For some reason that seems appropriate for Ash Wednesday.

It’s always noisy here, it appeared i was directly below a flight pattern and several small noisy planes flew overhead. The Cathedral is also located right on Peachtree Road which as always was busy with traffic at the time of my walk.

As I walked, I considered the blessings which I had cataloged earlier in connection with an article I had read in America magazine. I thought about each one as I walked and stood within each of the petals of the center. I had inadvertently listed 6 items. I think when I make my lists this year I will always make six so that that will be a good number to consider when I walk Chartres style labyrinths.

I also pondered several readings from early this morning …

From James Howell:

Today is Ash Wednesday. Perhaps you know dreams turned to ashes. In Church we are reminded that “you are dust, and to dust you will return.” The big dreamer part of you is housed in a body that is slowly breaking down, returning to the mere stuff that it is. For a season of 6 weeks, as if God knew we couldn’t bear it for much longer, we fix our attention on the ashes, our morality, our finitude, our disappointments, our guilt and brokenness. It’s not a negative season. It’s just the truth about us – and once we embrace that brokenness, the way the world and people disappoint, ourselves include, then we begin to move toward healing, and a deep, abiding sense of God’s mercy, goodness, presence – and hope.

Bly’s title is from an old fairy tale the Grimm Brothers passed along to us. Hunters keep disappearing in the forest near the king’s castle. People stop venturing in. But one day an unknown hunter shows up and asks “Anything dangerous to do around here?” The King tells him about the forest. He replies “That’s the sort of thing I like.” So he plunges in, alone, taking only his dog. They finally come to a pond. A hand reaches up from under the water, grabs the dog, and pulls it under. “This must be the place.” He returns to the castle, gets a bucket, and starts bucketing out the water from the pond. Long, slow work. Finally there’s a big guy with reddish hair, wild, untamed: “Iron John.”

It’s a parable about the way we avoid the hard work of going deep into ourselves and thus deep with God. We are fearful of what we might find, so we avoid, stay busy, stick to our diversions. But Lent is the time to do some bucketing, to see what’s really under there. It’s a little scary, but only when we befriend the hidden self, the wild untamed one within, can we discover who we really are in and with God.

Join me in some hard work this Lent. Poke around in the brokenness. See how God is there. As Leonard Cohen sang, “Everything has a crack in it. That’s how the light gets in.”

Source: The Beauty of Brokenness: Ash Wednesday, https://myemail.constantcontact.com/The-Beauty-of-Brokenness–Ash-Wednesday.html?soid=1104220709083&aid=9kgMoWzcRAc

And from Pope Francis:

Not only are Christians called to generously share the richness of the Gospel and gifts from God, “today, too, there is a need to appeal to men and women of good will to share, by almsgiving, their goods with those most in need, as a means of personally participating in the building of a better world,” he said.

“Charitable giving makes us more human, whereas hoarding risks making us less human, imprisoned by our own selfishness,” he said.

“We can and must go even further, and consider the structural aspects of our economic life,” he said.

That is why, the pope said, he called for a meeting during Lent with “young economists, entrepreneurs and change-makers with the aim of shaping a more just and inclusive economy.” The meeting was set to take place in Assisi March 26-28.

The theme of the pope’s message, “We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God,” was taken from the Second Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians (5:20), which reflects the invitation to return to God through constant conversion and reconciliation, and experience new life in Christ.

“Life is born of the love of God our father, from his desire to grant us life in abundance,” Pope Francis wrote

Source: Pope Francis stresses reconciliation in Lenten message | America Magazine, https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2020/02/24/pope-francis-stresses-reconciliation-lenten-message

And I liked this one from Meister Eckhart, too.

We then returned to Lenbrook. Doesn’t mom look great!

And I missed the Imposition of Ashes at nearby churches …

Regardless, I had a lovely Ash Wednesday … dust to dust …

It was a nice way to begin the season.


And I stumbled on this again …

I walked down Grace Street in Richmond twenty years ago, and about two blocks away from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church I began to see people with dirty foreheads: all sorts of people, some smartly dressed for work on their lunch hour, some rather shopworn and tired. It wasn’t until hours later that I realized that the source of the “dirt” was Ash Wednesday worship, so distant was this day in the liturgical calendar from my Presbyterian experience. Now Presbyterian churches galore, including our own, have Ash Wednesday worship. We ministers smudge the foreheads of worshipers and say: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

Remember that you are dust – The Presbyterian Outlook,

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February 2020

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