Monday, February 12, 2018

one of the joys of unpacking as a lenten discipline...

Yesterday, after sleeping well beyond the normal start of Sunday worship, Di and I slowly greeted the day. After tea/coffee and the Sunday paper, we spent much of the day doing our respective "things" - she working on photography and me writing. Later we chopped ice from the drive way and then I unpacked 10 boxes of old files dating back to the start of ministry in Saginaw, MI. Among the treasures unearthed in this sorting was the first Lenten series I ever led at Trinity United Church of Christ in 1986. It was typed on my old IBM Selectric with additional hand-written notes.

Two facts struck me - and compelled me to keep this bad boy rather than tossing it like so many of my other old files. First it was the beginning of many classes I led into what is now known as the classic spiritual disciplines. This five week conversation emphasized centering prayer meditation, fasting, confession, personal prayers of petition and learning to wait on the Lord in trust. It will be fascinating to reread this knowing that it has been a life-long commitment.

Second, I am still a beginner when it comes to authentic prayer. That is a humbling fact, but true. I have seasons of intensity and laziness, intimacy with the holy and boredom, months of clarity mixed with years of uncertainty. This is one of the reasons I have loved Henri Nouwen: sometimes he was rock solid and other times he was adrift and uncertain. Nevertheless, he was certain that God was gracious and loving even when he felt wounded or bereft. He knew at some fundamental level that God was greater than his feelings. I, too have come to know this - trust it and count on it - given my fickle and undisciplined heart. 

The closing words to my first Lenten invitation read: "As we prepare to undertake this journey into the spirit, please know that we journey as compatriot's and fellow pilgrims. The Lord is calling to us, we are asked to listen and then answer with our hearts and minds." I ended with this prayer from brother Henri.

O Lord, sea of love and goodness, let me not fear too much the storms and winds of my daily life, and let me know that there is ebb and flow, but that the sea remains the sea. Amen.

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