Ripening...

Tonight we begin a short Lenten conversation/study @ 7 pm.  We'll be combining a conversation about awe and reverence with practicing Centering Prayer.  I like this quote from Raplph Hientzman from his book Rediscovering Reverence:

A religious life (like everything else, for that matter) is an answer to a question.  You have to ask the question before the answer can become relevant or meaningful. This persistent hunger for something more fulfilling than ordinary human satisfactions may begin to form such questions for you.  Another kind of experience that can do so is... reaching bottom or hitting some kind of wall in your life.  "In the experience of failure," Lezek Kolakowski observes, "in seeing Being defeated by nothing, the knowledge of being and of good emerges... and Sacred is revealed to us in the experience of our failure. Religion is indeed the awareness of human insufficiency, it is lived in the admission of weakness... thereby it is a cry for help."

This not only rings true for the season of Lent, but also my inner journey - yours, too?  It will be a short workshop - a total of just four weeks - given other commitments and the intensity of Holy Week.  But it still feels right - rather like the poem by Wendell Berry.

The longer we are together
the larger death grows around us.
How many we know by now
who are dead! We, who were young,
now count the cost of having been.
And yet as we know the dead
we grow familiar with the world.
We, who were young and loved each other
ignorantly, now come to know
each other in love, married
by what we have done, as much
as by what we intend.  Our hair
turns white with our ripening
as though to fly away in some
coming wind, bearing the seed
of what we know. It was bitter to learn
that we come to death as we come
to love, bitter to face
the just and solving welcome
that death prepares. But that is bitter
only to the ignorant, who pray
it will not happen. Having come
the bitter way to better prayer, we have
the sweetness of ripening.  How sweet
to know you by the signs of this world!

These past few weeks have reawakened my need to call out to God for help - and rest in God's grace.  This feels like an odd little week by comparison: today was all about some administrative meetings and now my workshop, tomorrow will be given to writing/study and music, Wednesday is midday Eucharist and some Sunday School details while Thursday is dedicated to minor surgery - and a jazz gig on Friday.  I smiled when I heard the geese returning this morning as I took the dog out.  Sweet ripening, indeed.

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