Just when I think winter is over, a curveball is thrown. Think about the power of nature, and its beauty. Where do you find G-d in nature?
Read the Psalm for today’s readings and meditate on what it is saying and asking of you by way of compassion and kindness. I think that we all could use more of both in our lives, and this psalm is perfect for a reminder of that, and a way to include G-d in how you go about your day with more kindness and compassion.
Remember your mercies, O Lord.
Your ways, O LORD, make known to me;
teach me your paths,
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my savior.
R. Remember your mercies, O Lord.
Remember that your compassion, O LORD,
and your kindness are from of old.
In your kindness remember me,
because of your goodness, O LORD.
R. Remember your mercies, O Lord.
Good and upright is the LORD;
thus he shows sinners the way.
He guides the humble to justice,
he teaches the humble his way.
R. Remember your mercies, O Lord.
Use this photo collage to meditate on your Lenten experience. Draw or photograph your own inspirational photo to carry with you on your Lenten journey. I chose to put together five selections to represent the natural world, which is where I draw upon much of my spiritual inspirations. Whether or not I’m physically in the natural world, I can easily find it in my phone or kindle’s camera as well as in a variety places on the internet. Use what’s available to you to find your way and pray.
Today is the third week of the retreat workshop/contemplation/art commune that I’ve been taking. We spend the week reading and thinking about the two women, and then after a short discussion, we art.
I’d like to share with you the readings for anyone that was interested in doing this at home.
The first woman of the Gospel is the woman caught in adultery. The reading can be found at John 8:1-11.
Our second woman is the woman who anoints Jesus in Bethany. That Scripture can be found at Mark 14:3-9.
Later this afternoon or tomorrow, I’ll share what came about in today’s hands-on portion.
What Ihave found in the past two weeks and four readings thus far is that we can not only see ourselves in these Gospel women, but often we see the women around us, who encourage us to look at things a little differently and who love and support us. I can only hope to be one of those women to someone else.
Today was week one of a four week mini-retreat I guess I’d call it. I hadn’t realized that there was an art component, but Brother Mickey and my son’s hesitation to explore his own talent has me stepping out more and more in the artistic realm. It’s not museum quality, but I’ve been pretty happy with what I’ve worked on.
The theme for the four weeks is exploring and meditating on the women of the Gospel as well as the Gospel women in our own lives. We all know them, and this series of exercises will let us dwell on them and ourselves with the guidance of the women mentioned in Scriptures.
Every week we will hear two readings and have the week to think on them. Lecto Divinia was mentioned as a tool which is one that I enjoy. When we return, we’ll talk about our week away and work on some kind of art that reflects our reflections.
Today, being the first day, we reflected on why we’ve come to this type of workshop and we set out to make a prayer bead. It’s not quite a bead. Some of us went long like a rosary. Some of us made necklaces, bracelets, danglies, and whatever else struck our fancy.
Mine is a necklace that i’ll wear the next four weeks, and then I will probably convert it to a danglie.
It’s something tangible to hold onto while I’m reflecting or meditating or sit next to my keyboard while I’m writing.
I anchored mine with a bell. I like d the idea of a little bit of noise in the silence of meditating.
Today’s silence was a bit too relaxing – I think I fell asleep. No one said anything, but I still feel as though I missed some parts of the talking bits.
When mine was finished, it reminded me of an everlasting gobstopper. Watch Willy Wonka making them, and then look at my photos from this morning.
Prayer is one of those things that sounds like an easy fix, but it is far from that. It is also not rocket science. Prayer is one of those things that is very individual to each person doing it. There is no right way or wrong way to pray. As long as it’s meaningful to you, you’re doing it right.
It took me a long time to figure that out. While I’ve always believed in G-d and had conversations with him, I had always found formal prayer to be out of my reach.
There are many opportunities during the Lenten season to pray a little extra each day and to spend some of that time in contemplation of those things for Lent: fasting, abstinence, penance, almsgiving and prayer itself.
One suggestion that was just offered at a recent retreat is that upon waking up in the morning, sit up in bed with your eyes closed and breathe slowly. No special counting or breathing necessary, just try and clear your mind. No thinking, no listmaking, no complaining. Think about what you’re grateful for, thank G-d for all that He’s given you, all that you have and get ready to start your day.
Think about the ways you can be better, can do better. Last Lent I tried to pray the rosary every day. This Lent, I’m trying to be a little quieter in my thoughts and writing a bit more and looking inward.
When I first began to attend the daily masses at my church, I never knew what to pray for during the prayer of the faithful. It was easy to pray for the sick and the dead – that’s right there in the big print. I had people who were sick, including myself; I had people who had died, but what were my silent intentions? I felt that I needed something tangible to think about in order to pray for it. If I had nothing more tangible to pray for, I had started praying for patience, courage and strength. Sometimes it was a bit more – patience with my kids, courage with my therapist and the like, but it couldn’t hurt and it still felt respectful.
At that recent retreat, I was reminded of an interview Mother Theresa gave on television where she was asked what she spoke to G-d about during her prayers. Her answer was, “Nothing, I just listen.” And while she’s listening, what was it that G-d was saying to her? Her answer to the reporter was, nothing. He just listens.”
Sometimes the silence is enough for our prayers to reach G-d. It’s taken me quite some time to find that place in my prayer. I can now sit in silence during a Mass without looking around, not sure if I’m doing it the right way. What I discovered is that my way is the right way for me. And we will all find our way.
That is one of the things I really love about The Little books. I’m currently reading The Little Black Book for Lent. On the left page is usually some kind of historical reference. On the right side is a portion of the day’s Gospel and a meditation. At the very bottom of the right hand page is the suggestion to “spend some quiet time with the Lord.”
Quiet time, contemplation, meditation, prayer.
Don’t let the focus rest on you. Focus on the joy of the season. Lent isn’t about you or me or the sin we might be running away from. It’s focus should remain on G-d. Every step on this journey should be moving us towards G-d. Lent gives us the opportunity to slow that journey down and look deeper into ourselves and our relationship with G-d.
At a recent Lenten reflection, the director told us to look at who we are and offer ourselves during this time. Lent gives us the time for reflection, for prayer, for thoughtful communion with G-d.
Is a retreat a pilgrimage? What about the reverse? Is a pilgrimage a retreat? They can be. They can also not be. Is a road trip a pilgrimage?
For a long time, I assumed that pilgrimage meant spiritual and/or religious. In looking back over my more focused travels, I’ve taken historical pilgrimages, writing pilgrimages, and nature ones. I never looked at them that way before. Everywhere I went in those instances (an in many others) always included writing. Notebooks came with me. Notebooks, journals, and my camera. Now, I will sometimes bring a sketchbook, like this past weekend retreat, but as opposed to the notebooks which is second nature I have to be conscious of packing a sketchbook and colored pencils. Drawing will never feel second nature to me, but it is something that doesn’t intimidate me as much as it used to.
While I’ve been writing this, I have come to the realization that a pilgrimage can sometimes include a retreat, but they are two different things.