Tag Archives: Lent

“Come alive, come truly alive!”

I’ve just started reading Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich Nhat Hanh. The introduction is written by Elaine Pagels, whose book about “Revelation” is also on my to read list. In the introduction of Living, she discusses some of the gnostic gospels and their similarities to Buddhist thought. Most striking for me are the words of “The Teaching of Silvanus”

Knock upon yourself as upon a door, and walk upon yourself as on a straight road. For if you walk on that path, you cannot go astray; and when you knock on that door, what you open for yourself shall open.

Pagels argues that the gnostic gospels point not simply to faith, but also to a “path of solitary searching”  for understanding (xxv). For obvious reasons, many early church leaders condemned the gnostic gospels and the alternate salvific paths they taught, but these same books advocate similar theological teachings, such as compassion. Pagels writes that in the “Gospel of Thomas” Jesus says, “Love your brother as the apple of your eye.” Isn’t that the same thing as recognizing the spark of the divine in everyone or loving your neighbor as yourself?

In the first chapter “Be Still and Know,” Nhat Hanh advocates a similar idea to Paul’s in the biblical text. Paul writes in Acts: “‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’We also learn throughout the Christian scriptures that every good thing comes from God. Take the first chapter of James for example: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” St. Thomas Aquinas, in his ginormous text Summa Theologica, even extrapolates the idea that all good is of God. Nhat Hanh agrees with this long line of Christian theological thought, but spins it little when he writes about his own encounters with Jesus: “We have to allow what is good, beautiful, and meaningful in the other’s tradition transform us” (9). Nhat Hanh and early Christian writers of all threads, I think, want us to realize this singular spirit of love, beauty, and grace.

I like the last section of this first chapter quite a bit. Nhat Hanh advocates that we should look deeply, which means that “the distinction between observer and observed disappears” (11). Do you suppose this is what Jesus meant when he said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing”? Are we to look into Jesus so intently that we become indistinguishable from him? Is that how we can learn to change the world?

Peace.

Tomorrow is Palm Sunday

Holy Week begins tomorrow on Palm Sunday with that triumphal act of Jesus riding a donkey into Jerusalem.

A Mosaic of the Triumphal Entry
Taken from http://murraycreek.net/higher/chapter4.htm

Holy Week is by far my favorite week of the Christian calendar. Why? I can’t really tell you. Maybe it’s the fact that I love the whole glorious mystery of the death and resurrection. Maybe it’s the anticipation of the forty-some days of contemplation an denial leading up to Easter. Maybe it the intense focus on the death of Jesus Christ on Holy Friday. Maybe it’s just that I know soon and very soon the heartache of this forty days of wilderness will be over. There are a lot of maybes leading up to Easter, but somehow Holy Week always succeeds in stopping me right in my tracks and making face mortality in this life. It’s a beautifully tragic week with a most fantastic end: Jesus comes back from the dead and we rejoice. We get to live forever with Jesus, because we get immortality in the next life. That, my friends, is a pretty spectacular promise.

 

Lent Day 38: Relay for Life

Last night Bec and I met up with our friends Sarah and Celeste to walk for a few hours at the Relay for Life. We calculated that we probably walked about six miles while we were there and it was a three-mile trip to get there and back, so we walked about 9 miles last night. My ankles are a little sore today, because I haven’t been walking barefoot as much as I should be, and I haven’t been running at all. I wore my trusty Vibram Five Finger Classics for the walk last night, and my feet love me for it. They were a bit sore last night, but today they feel great. My ankles, not so much, but my feet feel awesome! I love barefooting!

This coming week, since I’ve been unsick for about a week now and my energy is coming back, I plan to make a concerted effort to get up at 5AM to run two miles and then head to Ball Pool to swim two miles every morning. On Fridays, I want to just go swim three miles. I figure running two miles four days a week (Monday through Friday) and then a longer run of at least five miles (on Saturdays) is a good way to get back into the pleasure of running without the pain. It ends up being thirteen miles of running and eleven miles of swimming each week as a good solid base to add onto this summer when I have more time. Bec and I have been going to the Mounds to walk every Sunday, which is a nice way to start the week, but I want to get my body back into shape.

Food Like This Fuels Me: Pork Chops and Spinach Salad

Much of my mental and spiritual well-being hinges on my body feeling well, so when I am not exercising regularly I don’t feel whole. The food I’ve been eating has helped tremendously, and I’ve lost 25 pounds since January 1, but I just want to be able to run and swim without the pain and with the pleasure. I haven’t eaten chocolate or ice cream for a week, which has helped to keep my blood sugar more stable.

I’m not sure what the connection between this post and Lent is, but I can say that I think we are designed to be at an optimal fitness for our own bodies. I’m not by any means saying that we shouldn’t be fat, because I don’t mind being fat nor do I think it is the sin that our love US culture makes it out to be. I mention that I lost 25 pounds, simply because I have. I completely changed the way I eat and what I do with my body, and it’s changed me. Did I set out to lose weight? A little bit, but only because I want to be able to run more, longer, faster, better, because I love how I feel after a nice, long run. Minus the sore feet because I am heavy. The bigger sin, than being fat, might be not using the resources God gave us to make our bodies be the best they can be. Whatever that means for you.

Maybe that’s how this ties into Lent: God wants us to be the best we can be for the sake of worshiping [Them] with no constraints. I suppose it’s kind of like yesterday’s post, in that God wants us to be able to play and worship with reckless abandon. For me, that means being able to move my body in a joyful galumph over trails in the woods, or to move my body like a fish through the lake waters. Beautiful movement = joyful worship.

 

 

Too Many Days of Lent: I’ve Been Revelling in the Weather

How much of a blessing has this weather been?! The trees are bloomed out with leaves and assorted flowers, the wild flowers are brightly colored and diverse, the grass is growing and growing and growing, and the birds wake me up every morning with their anger or sexual desire, whichever is worse I am unsure. They scream and chatter and occasionally whistle and chirp outside our bedroom window at the bird feeders. They are my natural alarm clock, beautiful and harsh.

Every time I look out the window at the beauty of the day, I want school to be over so I can play outside. I want to go swimming, biking, running, disc golfing, kayaking, and I want to do every other activity that someone can do outside! I want to roll down a hill and make myself sick. I want to be free. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again here: God wants us to play. There is a whole theology of play that helps us to better relate to the divine through spontaneous acts of creative play.

Part of play for me is recognizing who I am in Christ and being free from societal constraints. In other words, I feel free to play when I realize that my identity lies in Christ and not in what other people think of me. And, I play with reckless abandon, which means I have a few people in my life that don’t quite understand me. My greatest desire is to be unencumbered by those things that other people see as necessary. My mom always says to other people, “I think she just wants to be poor.” Yeah, I do. I don’t want to be tied down by earthly possessions or monetary things. I never intended to buy a house. I would love to get rid of all my stuff until everything I own or everything I need could fit in my camping backpack. I’m pretty sure that would make me perfect for monastic life, which is still a kind of dream of mine. I’m not sure I want to be monastic in the “I’m celibate and live in a cold cell with a hair shirt” kind of monastic, but more in the new monastic, communal living sort of way where I share things with my community members.

When I am having these thoughts, my morning prayers typically confirm my thoughts or dissuade me from them. Today they confirm with this quote from Peter Maruin, co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement: “The world would be better off if -people tried to become better. And -people would become better if they stopped trying to become better off.” I think living in a self-sustaining community and trying to be better and more compassionate is definitely a way for me to be better off. I think of communities like Simple Way and the way they intertwine work and play in all aspects of their lives.

I would be able to work hard and play hard without trying to conform to some arbitrary economic constraints.

I would only have to please God and provide for my “family.”

I would have plenty of time to revel in the beauty of God’s world and word.

I could play.

Peace.

Lent Day 32: Looking Back

Sometimes I like to look back through my previous writings to see how my writing is improving or morphing and to see what trends run through my writing. For me, it’s interesting to see how I struggle with and revel in similar issues time and time again.

Here is a post about Mary and Martha from March of 2007.

Here is a post about my career struggles from March of 2008.

Here is a rant against Lane Bryant from March of 2009.

Here is a collection of thoughts posted in March of 2010.

And finally, here is a post about driving to Florida last March.

From reading back through my posts, I have decided that I really do need to quit and go farm. Literally.

Feeling a Little Wacky Today