Monthly Archives: February 2015

Lent

Lent — from the Latin, Lenten meaning to lengthen. As in the days begin to lengthen in the Spring. Ecclesiastical season of penitence and self-denial beginning on Ash Wednesday and continuing until Easter (40 days, does not include Sundays).

It is all about the birds again today. I’ve been watching the bird feeders again. It is very amusing and instructive. This time I have been focused on one particular Cardinal male. He is brilliantly hued, fat as you please, and dumb as brick. All the other birds, Cardinals included, have mastered the feeding stations, but not this one. I think for brevity I will call him Fred. Fred comes to the feeder many times a day. He sits on the rail and twists his head left then right. Then he flaps his wings, and aims for the feeder, and every time he misses. Everytime. He’s persistent. He misses everytime.

This morning I was contemplating the coming Ash Wednesday service, while watching the birds feeding in the on-going snow, and wondering if I’ll be able to attend. It is one of my favorite “church days.” I like being “marked” and knowing that the depths and heights of God’s love are being proclaimed. I like the somber tone that builds until it crescendos on Good Friday, anticipation over the weekend, and the joyful booming that “Christ has risen. Alleluia!” on Easter morning.

I’m a lot like that silly Fred. He keeps missing, but he never changes his strategy. I’ve been like that. I normally “give something up for Lent.” Usually chocolate — you know, something really important like that! The problem is that I almost always fail. The surest way to get me do something is to tell me I can’t. And how, after 48 years, did I just now notice that Sundays aren’t included in the 40 days? I mean, really . . .

So I’m changing my strategy. I’m still giving up chocolate. I mean it wouldn’t be Lent if I didn’t. It is tradition! However, since Sundays are still a celebration of resurrection, I hereby give myself permission to eat chocolate on Sundays during Lent. Surely to goodness, knowing that Sunday is coming will strenghten my resolve the other 6 days.

I’ve put all my chocolate money in an envelope. Each Sunday I will take out enough for one bar. On Easter the difference between what I normally spend and what I spend during Lent will go Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville, KY. They do amazing work.

Admiration

Admiration — worthy of respect, approval, esteem, admiration, and veneration

I’m standing in front of the woodstove, eyes closed, body swaying, thinking through an assignment for a course I’m taking. I’m stuck. I’m blocked. I’m getting nowhere. So I sway. Swaying seems to help me relax and closing my eyes helps me focus.

I’m really digging deep and then I hear a chortle.

Body stops, eyes open, and I see Michael sitting on the couch watching me. Apparently I look funny. He wants to know what I’m thinking about so hard. So I share the assignment and my problem. He shares some insight that really gets me started and I’m off . . . racing toward the notebook and jotting down thoughts, visions, questions, and faces that come to mind.

The assignment was to think about people you admire, why you admire them, are you like them, are they opposite of you, or are you striving to be like them.

I had a few people in my mind. I could actually see their faces, but I couldn’t figure out why. Why did these come to mind? There are multitudes of people I admire, but these were stuck in the foreground and would not budge. It was Michael’s observation that pulled it all together for me. He instincitvely saw the pattern that I was struggling to grasp.

Here are the things my list have in common:

Their lives revolve around their values (principles).
They show strength and courage to sacrifice (life, reputation, monetary gain) for those values.
They show grace and mercy to love those who belittle (persecute, hurt) them for those values.
My list is a funny hodge-podge, but now that I see the commonalities, it makes perfect sense. Some of the people are real, some are characters. Some I know a lot about, and some I am still learning from and about. Some are the point, some are the counterpoint.

Together they paint a portrait of who I want to be “when I grow up.”

So who was on my list:

Jeus: Perfection come down to live among us as one of us. Love, grace, mercy, meekness (the old definition), kindness, but strength — such strength.

Mr Rogers: Gentle, informed, loving, caring, grace, mercy, accepting, and again, the strength, such strength.

Jimmy Carter: A new hero for me. He was much disparaged as I grew up, but I’ve been reading his writing and finding values, truth, grace, focus, and again strength — mighty strength.

and then came 2 characters: Sidney Bristow and Hector of Troy: loyalty and honesty. Physically: protective, willingness to die, and standing up for the right side (even when it wasn’t the winning side). They are physcial representations of the values I see in the others. They mash it out in the “real world” in ways I could never conceive of or deliver. Something about that physicality both inspires and indimidates me. But, that is another lesson for another day . . .

So in my world, we’d all have heroes. Some perfect, some flawed, but all giving us hope and inspiring us to be the best we can be.

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