A love affair with Lent.

Lent 2017.

Despite my rather curious and belated beginning of Lent last year, I have fallen in love!

Orthodox Lent, having come through for me when I really needed it, now holds a special place in my heart. So I struggled this year: stick with Orthodox Lent, or move to the one most suited to my own cultural calendar?

Fortunately, Orthodox and Western Lent overlap so well for 2017 that I can transition with no separation anxiety. 

Last year I gave up up doubting and negative views of God for Lent.

I tried to think of it as a fast, and to fill any little space I emptied of doubt with meditation on encouraging verses of scripture, and prayer for light, for help.  

And you know what? It helped! A lot.

 

I’m still not  the poster child for unshakable faith, and I still struggle with whether some good thing is ‘too much to ask’.

But I know a lot more now about how to work with God, and how to keep believing through the struggles, than I did a year ago. And I’m getting better at expecting the best and not the worst in my dealings with God.

Thinking well of God, if you will.

And spending 40 days focusing on something I value, heck, just spending 40 days FOCUSING, was such a gift.

 

So, I’m going on with my own little Lent observance! One day maybe I’ll get to where I do it ‘right’, but if not, I’m okay with that: doing it at all has changed me, in very positive ways.

For this next Lent, I’m going to just keep on this path toward fully trusting God: progress good, but much yet to be done.

I also want invite in anyone who could use a chance to step back and focus!

If you, like me, haven’t really ever had the blessing of Lent, take a chance on it!

Quick tip though: Since I’m still almost completely ignorant of ‘proper’ Lenten practice, if you’re the perfectionist type, definitely find a church that practices Lent and seek ‘learned’ input!

But, I found a neat little resource that I’m going to post from throughout the Lenten season, so if you want a simple, casual Lenten intro, come along.

The resource is the Revised Common Lectionary from Vanderbilt University.

“Revised Common Lectionary” – don’t liturgical churches have the BEST words?

And here’s what REALLY got me: I still don’t have a firm grasp of this whole Liturgical Calendar thing, but according to this Lectionary, the Bible readings for  Lent start with Isaiah 58!

I am a complete sucker for Isaiah 58.

(The Lectionary also gives parts of Joel 2, and it’s great, so I don’t want to bias anyone, but … ISAIAH 58!) You could always read both. But if you’re only reading one… you know…. 😀

Isaiah 58 is like a super-condensed version of the entire Christian life. DEFINITLY in love with Isaiah 58.

But I digress.

So, throughout Lent I’ll be posting the verses, and the prayers for that day from the Lectionary, and maybe a question or a thought or something from my own reading or contemplation.

I’ll start that up next Wednesday, though I admit I’ve given away some of that one.

There aren’t verses for every day, but mainly for Sundays (which interestingly enough, appear to be holidays from Lent; curious folks these liturgical) and the important milestones of Lent.

If you’re interested, come along! And no worries if you’re not. 

Another digression

I don’t understand how all this liturgical calendar stuff works, but I thought this was super cool:

These Lenton plans, or lectionaries, are developed something like 3 years in advance. And this one focuses on things like Isaiah 58, some verses from the the New Testament that are so timely for this point at least in my life, and the life of my country that they seem hand picked for this year.

Very cool stuff indeed.

 

Be well. 

Monday Peace

Happy Monday!!!  I hope everyone is well.

Peace be with you!

I’ve mentioned before my deep regret that my language culture doesn’t include the standard of wishing peace as part of greetings and goodbyes.

I could certainly do with more blessings of peace!

I’m feeling a ‘Strong Tower’ groove to this week’s pursuit of peace.

It’s a gorgeous grey, misty day, and I love the gentle, almost wave-like peace of this tune.

And the reminder, when I forget, of who my peace is founded on. 🙂

 

 

 

Be well 

A Retrenchment Resumed: Week One

Perspective isn’t everything, but it is a great deal.

 

Here I am AGAIN:

– Completed last day of my job.

– Took a much needed little holiday.

– Where do I go from here???

 

Curious as the deja vu is, I have a very different perspective than at the end of September. And having a different perspective, I am a somewhat different me.

Having the space to process losing my job, and figure out where I want and need to go from here, while NOT living in daily horror of the worst case scenario, made a huge difference.

 

In September, my few weeks of severance pay looked like The Last Dollars Forever. And the thought of not having a job before they ran out was terrifying.

So of course getting a job in those few weeks was the Only Possible Option (aside from ultimately living under a bridge, eating scraps). Not the most peaceful, healthy frame of mind with which to nurture strategic, critical thinking. 🙂

 

Today, though I am certain I’ll face many other moments of panic, I have a stronger, calmer perspective.

Colleagues’ stories of spending 12 …  18…  months out of work still  knot my stomach, make no mistake.

But then OPTIONS rise up to return my perspective!

Sure, having time to think, and to prioritise, while still making a living rather than depleting my savings, was extraordinarily helpful.

 

But the perspective that opportunity built is what most strengthens my faith.

September’s “What if I NEVER find another decent job?!?!”

Is altered by the realisations that:

Well, NEVER finding another decent job is actually less likely than eventually finding one.

And I can work other contract jobs to at least pull in SOME income.

And downsize my expenses; which I’ve already been working toward.

There is, actually, unemployment insurance associated with my former job. So even after the severance, it could be MONTHS before I have to start fighting pigeons and rats for discarded crusts.

Much can happen in those months. And not all of it bad!

And “What about living under that bridge?? It’s winter! I’m a light sleeper!”

Gives way to:

I do have two dear friends who have already offered me sanctuary.

And again with the unemployment insurance: odds are I can at least afford a nice heavy cardboard box for under the bridge.

I’m also pretty certain my family would be inclined to offer a room before I come to the extremity of bridges and scraps.

Perspective.

It  makes the impacts of this situation seem less dire.

And the ‘opportunity’ part of this situation seem more realistic.

It certainly makes me more calm.

It’s a decent place to start.

 

 

Be well.