Bread line, Lent 1 short

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Seen in Spain, during Camino.

“I gotta put bread on the table!” How often has that line, or something like it been used to justify doing things? Doing things that go against what we know is right. Whether it is not honoring the Sabbath, completing a work assignment that has moral implications, missing time spent with family or loved one… you fill in the blank. We’ve all done it. We all do it.

Today’s Gospel is from Matthew show us Jesus is in the desert being tempted. It has to be hot, challenging, and lonely. He must be exhausted, hungry and thirsty. It would be easy to give in, it would be reasonable even. Right?

But is anything about a life of faith, a life following Christ, ever reasonable in the material sense? Think about that and you have your answer. This does not mean some intense over-scrupulosity that turns self-induced sacrifice into some kind of holy-making exercise. Instead, we are asked to keep God first in our sights and choose accordingly. It means trusting God when the last shred is about to tear away. It is that simple, which indeed that difficult. And it does not always work out in the way we wish for. There’s the rub.

How often do we do what we should not? What else can we do…  we don’t want to end up on the breadline, do we?

(I’m off of social media for Lent. What I am doing is posting a photo a day on Instagram, with a short reflection. Each one posts to Facebook automatically. If you are on Instagram, check it out.)

Lent, shorter

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The Jordanian Desert – 2006

I had this great blog post planned for Ash Wednesday, all about going into the desert, looking to those who annoy us the most for important self-understanding and growth, Carl Jung shadow work, plus a dose of Goofus and Gallant from Highlights magazine.

It did not happen, so here is the short cut. Lent means going into the desert, that means facing away from a lot of what constitutes daily engagement. It doesn’t mean quitting your job for 40 days, but it may mean giving up social media.

Think about the people or persons that annoy you the most. Hold their image before you, struggling a bit with the tension of that moment. (I hate doing it, but I’m going to have to give it a go.) If they are that annoying, they Continue reading

Resistance

I wrote this the other day and for some reason, I did not hit publish. The more I think about it, the more I think that being called to stillness for Lent. Such an act could be interpreted at not doing anything, or not doing enough to resist all the things that are happening. However, we face a long challenge – a very long, difficult challenge. In the stillness comes the answers, at least that is what I am thinking. To be continued before Lent begins… What are your thoughts? I ask because we all need one another at this time. Let me know in the comments.

resistanceRight now I am thinking about being a little kid. Someone – I don’t know who, my much older brother, my uncle, a neighbor – I can’t be sure, has placed the palm of their hand on top of my head, their fingers trailing down like a bad wig on top of my hair. Now their forearm is very straight, held in place with their adult strength. Me? I feel ashamed, because that is the feeling most commonly found in my heart, ashamed for being me, for being alive, for being. And I feel angry, because I am always angry, I am just too young to understand that, and with no way to process the anger, I emit waves of emotion like a gas permeating the air. (That is often still the case, even though I am well versed in anger expression at this point in my life.) Also, I feel frustrated, trapped, and more than a little afraid. Of course at age, 5-6-7-8 I have no clue of anything that I am feeling.

The hot tears roll down my reddened face like oil overflowing a hot pan. The more I struggle, the more tightly I seem to be held in place. All the adults are chuckling away, but I fail to see the humor in the moment. Frankly, I probably fail to see anything because my anxiety at age 5-6-7-8 has skyrocketed. All I do is Continue reading

Blisters of privilege, prayers of choice

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My blistered feet entering an allegedly healing pool.

They were sometimes like a hot knife plunged into my lower extremities, at other times, simply walking on broken glass. My blisters during the first two weeks of my Camino were horrible. One day, Sue and I entered the town of Villafranca Montes de Oca and I simply had to stop walking. It was too much, I could not take the pain. What happened next is a long story for another day, just let it suffice to say, my feet were wrecked. Would I be able to continue my Camino? (Spoiler alert for new readers, thanks be to God, I did.)

With nearly every blistered step I took, I was aware of how privileged I was to even be in this situation. All I could think about when my feet, my knees, or general tiredness bothered me was that I chose to be where I was. Not so far away from me, migrants were to be found all over Europe. The vast majority of them fled their homes, not by choice, not due to any luxury, but due to violence, hunger, the threat of war, and the ever-present reality of death. I tried to pray with and for them with every painful footfall, even after my blisters were overall healed.

Today is Continue reading

You can’t curb joy

frankarlaOne week ago today I got in my car and headed east towards the Berkshires. The day was cold, but sunny – perfect for the short one hour drive. My destination was Kripalu, which is a yoga and wellness retreat center. It has been years since my body has taken a yoga class, but my goal that day was not yoga. My friend Karla McLaren comes in from California to every few years to teach there, and we were overdue for a visit. Karla and I first “met” through blogging almost 10 years ago, when blogging was in a different era. We then met up at Kripalu a few years back.

Making my way through the town of West Stockbridge, I listened to the voice on the GPS interrupt the podcast of Dear Prudence that  I was listening to, telling me to turn left and right. I turned left and was immediately stunned as my right front wheel smashed into the curb. I was Continue reading

Camino Stories – Coincidence?

camino-mapMany of you know that I went on Camino Santiago in the fall. It has been difficult to write about my experiences there. Why? I am not sure! Maybe it is because of the extraordinary nature of such a trip, a journey traveled in the world and also in the soul. Words do not come easily! In any case, I will start sharing some Camino Stories. Today I begin with one about coincidences occurring on the beginning and the end of the trip.

My camino compañera Sue and I flew from Montreal to Paris to begin our journey. As she had never been to Paris, we made a plan to stay overnight and have a one day whirlwind around this remarkable city. God was good and I found us a cheap hotel in a great location. It was a LOVELY hotel. We arrived at the crack o’ dawn and they let us check into our room. We changed and washed up, took off, and spent the day sightseeing.

Late in the afternoon found us near the Eiffel Tower at last. Sue was thrilled to be there. Honestly, having done it before, I was not so interested in going up, but once we got there, Sue’s excitement was contagious. Like all the other tourists, we waited in a long line and finally got to the elevator, which brings you to the first viewing level.

It was super crowded – crazy crowded. Sue and I were Continue reading

Mensch making

true_mensch_tile_coasterThe other day I used the word “mensch” on my Facebook page as I was describing someone that I know.  This prompted some comments about what the words meant, which ultimately caused another friend to send this video my way.

I found the whole thing uplifting and joyful – and a great reminder of how we can all be better, even by using qualities that might not seem like the best ones. We can all be mensches in one way or another, and we can make each other be better mensches if we try.  So no big statement today, just sit back, watch, think, and go out there and make a mensch of yourself and others. The world is in need, so mensch making should be on the rise. Go and do your part!