Final Lenten Labyrinth

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Lent did not seem to rush by or to trickle; it went along just right as Goldilocks would say. For me, I think part of it was keeping the labyrinth journal throughout Lent. It forced me (in a good way) to look at my day, both before it began and then to examine how it went later on and keep track of my activities. I mostly stuck to spiritual activities, but some secular ones seeped in, especially when I spent quality time with my family or if I completed writing assignments. Those things got me up in such a positive way, I couldn’t help but meditate on them and incorporate them into my spiritual journey for Lent. I enjoyed switching the colors between journaling, and I enjoyed recognizing close moments with G-d in the micro-narration as well as in the moment.

With Lent finished, and other responsibilities beginning, I thought I would try my hand at a spiritual journal. I started it on the 19th and didn’t pick it up again until yesterday. So far not an auspicious start, but I don’t intend it to be a daily journal; I’m attempting to keep it pressure free. It occured to me to begin it when I started keeping a log for my Cursillo grouping and Ultreya tripod and close moments. I thought I should keep those and have access to re-reading them and be able to always be advancing in my spiritual life.

Here are the final pictures of my Lenten Labyrinth Journal. It is definitely something that I found rewarding and something I would consider doing again. As you can see below the cut, I needed a second labyrinth to cover everything during Holy Week, concluding with Easter.

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Inspire. March.

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Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accesible and wisest of counselors, and the  most patient of teachers.

Charles W. Eliot

One week ago was World Book Day, although everyday is a good day to read a book. This is proved by the fact that this is one week late. Things happened, one of which was laziness, but not entirely. Last week was a particularly not great one, but nothing that can’t be overcome.

This is the list of books I read since last Monday. The ones with the asterisk are the ones that I completed before tonight (although most were not read entirely in seven days.)

  • Daily Reflections for Lent: Not By Bread Alone 2022 by Amy Ekeh and Thomas D. Stegman, SJ
  • Thirsty and You Gave Me Drink from Clear Faith Publishing, various authors
  • Quantum by Patricia Cornwell *
  • Learning to Pray: A Guide for Everyone by Rev. James Martin, SJ
  • Spin by Patricia Cornwell *
  • The 1619 Project by Nikole Hannah-Jones, The NY Times Magazine *
  • The Book of Gutsy Women: Favorite Stories of Courage and Resilience by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton
  • Never Tell by Selena Montgomery (Stacey Abrams) *
  • Search Me: A Way of the Cross in Solidarity with the LGBTQ Community by John T. Kyler *
  • Where the Deer and the Antelope Play: The Pastoral Observations of One Ignorant American Who Loves to Walk Outside by Nick Offerman


It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop. –

Confucius
Sunflower. (c)2022

My thought daily are with Ukraine, each morning and throughout the day checking on updates. My thoughts have also been with my parish (and selfishly myself if I’m being completely honest) as the search continues for a new pastor. I wrote a short reflection on Facebook a day or so ago, and I do feel a slight weight lifted as the parish trustees announced on Sunday our new incoming pastor (who will start at the end of April).

A friend described her feelings as “being at ease with the decision” and I would agree with that sentiment. I’m not anxious although it helps that I’m acquainted with the new (to us) pastor and looking forward to his ministry, but of course, my feelings are bittersweet. Fr. Jerry, my only priest so far in my journey would talk during his homilies at funerals as the bittersweetness of the Christian journey: we who are left behind are sad, but the one whose gone home is with Jesus and so how can we resent that.

I’ve written before about my struggle to move forward in my faith and my practices and I’m reminded of something else that Father Jerry so wisely said during funerals.

He has also talked about a life that’s not ended but changed, and I think with this new pastor announcement, I feel that my Catholic journey isn’t ended, but it has changed, and with this resolution, I may be able to be changed and follow this new path. I also feel more reflective things to say on this subject, but my words need a bit more study and discernment.

At the moment as I look around at my messy table and my busy calendar, I hope that I can spend some prayer and meditation time to get back on track for Lent. There are other challenges ahead, and I need to organize myself for them. It may be time for a list; a very, very long list.

Nanowrimo 2017: Not Precisely the Halfway Mark

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My novel is not a novel, but a non-fiction multi-genre exploration. It is part memoir, part travel guide, and part spiritual journey. It will include photographs and history, both of myself and the land. I haven’t been this excited about a writing project in a long time. I’m very glad that I took up the challenge of Nanowrimo in order to jump into this book and get it started. I’ve been talking about writing this for at least two decades.

As you can see from the above graphic, I’m about 5,000 words short of where I’m supposed to be at this point.

But that’s okay.

I’m also 20,000+ words ahead of where I was on November 1st.

There were a couple of days when I wrote 0 words, but I was also writing other things, like pieces for here and my writing group. There was one day when I wrote 3,313 words.

Currently, I have 18 saved documents of varying lengths from 75 to 2,468 ranging in topics from the dreaded GPS of 2009 to Driving and Comfort Zones, two topics that don’t really go together. At all.

I had decided to simply write about what I felt like in relation to my book on my journey through Wales, and that’s what I’m doing. I’m very happy with my progress. Some of it can be repetitive, although not as much as I feared. Some subjects overlap with different years and places, and one of the hard parts is going to be gathering these writings into a cohesive form that flows but also stays true to my experiences. I’m planning on putting together an outline sometime in December as I read and edit what I will have at the end of November.

For those of you also writing for Nanowrimo, there is good news and bad news. They are both the same: we are halfway through. If you’re doing well, great; keep going. If you haven’t started or have slowed down, that’s okay; you still have time. Keep going.

Journeying Without Hypocrisy

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“Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them. All their works are performed to be seen. They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels.” – Matthew 23:1-5

Yesterday’s Gospel is one that I struggle with every Lent as well as throughout the year. How do I continue my spiritual journey, the path to find me and do it authentically, and sometimes that’s hard to come by? I go to church and I’m seen by people. Whether or not their judging me, and nine times out of ten, they are not, I still feel uncomfortable. Am I worshipping in the right way?

I did do it before my baptism, but it took me forever to make the sign of the cross and the crosses on my head, lips and heart before the Gospel is read. I wasn’t ready, but then one day, without thinking about it, I just did it. I almost didn’t realize it. One day it was right.

I did feel that part of me was worried at how I looked, did people think I was genuine.

This was one of the reasons I didn’t talk about what I had given up for Lent or about the daily reflections that I had planned on doing. To me it sounded like bragging even though I definitely didn’t mean it like that. When I put money in the collection basket, I feel like there are looks, and I wish that there was another way of making my contribution.

How do we join the two sides to do what is important to us individually to do?

Today is the fourteenth day into Lent. I haven’t been counting down, but as I mentioned one of the Lenten commitments I made to myself (and to you, although unknowingly to you) in that first week was to write a daily reflection. It doesn’t matter how long it was or what it was about, but it was spontaneous, something that came to me at some point during the day, and so far as almost exclusively been related to my daily readings. Yesterday was the exception.

Most of them have been kind of eureka moments. I’ll be going along with my normal day, I read something or hear something at mass, and it makes me think, or go aha! Or slap my head or stop whatever else I’m doing to jot down a few thoughts and post it. This is really where my kindle has come in handy. In fact, today is probably the first day in the last month that I’ve actually used my computer to write. I can thank the bad roads for that. I ended up staying home with my television and my computer. I’m hungry, but that can wait.

I love to write. It makes me feel alive. It is part of every aspect of everything I do. I need it and I need to do it every day, constantly throughout the day. One of the objects I want to get out of these daily reflections is to continue to figure out who I am and where my mental priorities lie. I’m forty-eight years old and I don’t fit. I’m still trying to fit.

Remembering to do what feels right and leaving the hypocrisy at the door is a struggle that we all have to push through, and we all can in our own ways.