My Easter lesson for this year.

Always remember that Christ died for all, including the church lady you pissed off on Easter Sunday because you took the parking spot that everybody but you knew was reserved for her.

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Every day a holy day.

Every day ought to be a day when the Light of Christ is born in our hearts; every day ought to be a day when it is resurrected in our lives; every day ought to be a day when we “bear the cross” and try to crucify whatever keeps us in bondage.

– Max Carter, “Quakers Strive to Live ‘Holy Days’ Every Day,” washingtonpost.com

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A leaden Lenten loneliness.

I’m starting to regret giving up social media for Lent. This may be my last Facebook-free Lent for a while.

The more I think about it, the more I realize I get a lot of my “church” that way. As someone who lives a good 20 to 30 minutes away from my home church, I miss the fellowship that comes with proximity: regular worship times beyond Sundays, play dates and kid parties, etc. Being able to have exchanges on Facebook or Twitter isn’t quite the same as getting together for lunch after a Bible study, but it’s something.

I see Bruce Reyes-Chow’s point: “… the community found and nurtured via social networking can also be incredibly transforming, healing and holy.” (I linked earlier to his discussion of this with NPR.)

And from a non-church standpoint, I miss keeping up with friends. The social distance I experience also extends to my non-church friends. I’m a contract worker, and by design and by nature, the role of a contractor means a certain detachment from the office dynamic. I can’t say I have friends where I work. This doesn’t necessarily bother me; I’m surrounded — albeit virtually — by a nourishing, nurturing but far-flung family of friends. Facebook and Twitter are our daily meeting grounds, especially when it’s hard to get together for coffee or dinner or even talk on the phone.

I could bear in mind the loneliness of Jesus during his time here on earth, from the 40 days of wandering in the desert to the abandonment of his disciples toward the end of his life, not to mention the loneliness of the cross. My loneliness is nothing compared to that. It’s worth contemplating, though. It’s certainly the season for that.

I’ll stay off social media through Easter. It won’t be easy, but I guess that’s the point.

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‘You are very big, and I am very small.’

We don’t start with adoration because God needs us to tell him what He’s like. He doesn’t need to have His ego boosted, and He doesn’t need to be softened up or put in a good mood, like some prickly, insecure boss in middle management.

When we praise God, it’s for our sakes, 100%: to remind us Who we’re talking to — and to remind us who we are. It’s like the story of the old man who walked into the chapel every day, and just sat there for 10 minutes, and then went out. He did this for years and years. The curious priest finally asked him what he was doing every day, and the old man explained, “Well, I sit down, and I say, ‘God, You are very big, and I am very small.’”

Simcha Fischer

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‘Trimming the soul and scrapping the sludge.’

Lent is the time for trimming the soul and scrapping the sludge off a life turned slipshod. Lent is about taking stock of time, even religious time. Lent is about exercising the control that enables us to say no to ourselves so that when life turns hard of its own accord we have the stamina to yes to its twists and turns with faith and hope. … Lent is the time to make new efforts to be what we say we want to be.

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Joan Chittister (via Tim Keel's Blog)

Ashes to ashes.

The cross, with which the ashes are traced upon us, is the sign of Christ’s victory over death. The words “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return” are not to be taken as the quasi-form of a kind of “sacrament of death” (as if such a thing were possible). It might be good stoicism to receive a mere reminder of our condemnation to die, but it is not Christianity.

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— Thomas Merton