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  • Writer's pictureDavid Carlson

February 14, 2024: We are all meant to be the Mothers of God, for God is always needing to be born

Wednesday, February 13, 2024

 We are all meant to be the Mothers of God, for God is always needing to be born

  

HERE COMES LENT...


"LENT" is the Anglo-Saxon word for "SPRING." The time in the Northern Hemisphere when the bare branches miraculously begin to sprout, color, and blossom. It is the time before Easter, when our hearts and souls are also called on to sprout new growth.

 

Sadly, in medieval times, Lent became a penitential period when we made sacrifices in reparation for our many sins. Many years ago, when I was young and attending a church school, we would be asked by the teacher, “What have you given up for Lent?” Some of the pupils gave up candy. Others would say they gave up going to the Saturday movies to watch cowboy pictures. Even at that time, I wondered what all this had to do with the beauty of new life springing up around us.

 

I think the appropriate question for Lent is not what we give up, but the remarkable challenge that the poet Mary Oliver (1935-2019) puts to all of us,



"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"


That is a fundamental question for every day of the year, and especially appropriate in Lent. It is in that spirit I would like to share with you some of the practices that have evolved here at Starcross and among our friends. You may find some similarities with other spiritual communities. In Jewish life there is the concept of Tikkun Olan, “repairing the world.” Buddhists in some rainy places retreat for spiritual reflection. They become very aware of all living things, including small blades of grass that sprout up. After the retreat that mindfulness continues. They are very careful where they put their feet and what actions they take.

 

In fairness, I doubt that teachers in church schools are any longer asking that old question about what a pupil has given up for Lent. I hear about those students now taking on practices, such as helping prepare food for homeless people.

 

Here are three simple things that are frequently practiced at Starcross:

 

1. 30 minutes or more each day reading a book that helps you reset your spiritual compass. At the risk of blowing my own horn, I could recommend the new edition of my book "STEPPING STONES" especially during Holy Week, the week before Easter. This book is now available as an e-book.

 

2. If possible, there should be a time of solitude each week. Here we arrange it so that whatever work a person is doing can be covered by others to allow at least a period of 60 minutes or so. Most people who are able spend this time among the trees that surround us. As the Celtic poets would say, it is important to listen to the earth, the trees, and all parts of nature.

 



3. Some years ago, I edited Chapter 4 of the Rule of Saint Benedict, which is often entitled “The Tools for Good Works,” and put forth one tool for each day of the week. We read this in the morning and try as best we can to remember it through the day. A number of people and communities have asked for copies of these tools. Here they are:

 

SELECTIONS FROM THE RULE OF ST. BENEDICT CHAPTER 4

 

SUNDAY

Love God with your whole heart, your whole soul and your whole strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.

 

MONDAY

Do not kill, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not covet.

Do not bear false witness.

You must honor everyone.

Never do to another what you do not want done to you.

 

TUESDAY

Support the poor, clothe the naked, visit the sick, bury the dead, help the troubled, console the sorrowing.

 

WEDNESDAY

 Do not act in anger, nor nurse a grudge. Rid your heart of all deceit.

Never give a hollow greeting of peace, nor turn away from someone who needs your love.

 

THURSDAY

Do not return bad deeds with bad deeds.

Do no wrong to anyone and bear wrongs patiently.

Love your enemies.

Do not curse those who curse you but bless them.

 

FRIDAY

Be not proud, nor addicted to wine, nor food, nor sleep.

Do not be lazy, nor grumble, nor speak ill of anyone.

 

SATURDAY

Walk in God’s way every day.

Do not hate or be jealous or envious of anyone.

Avoid contention and arrogance.

Respect elders and love the young.

Make peace before the sun sets.

Never lose hope in God’s mercy.

 

My dear friends, I am convinced that each of you can probably do better than what I have done here. Just let us all make this a special time. Let us really listen to the songs of the blossoms and the birds, the melody of the earth and the sky, and the Divine Spirit within each one of us. Let us make these days of Lent a special time in our lives and for the world we leave to our children.

 

I have always treasured this quote from Meister Eckhart (1260-1328): “We are all meant to be the Mothers of God, for God is always needing to be born,” and I take the liberty of adding “and reborn in our age and in each of us.”

 



Tomorrow Lent 2024 begins. It will be the first for some, and the last for others. No matter what challenges we each face in our lives, let us try and do the best we can to make these days blessed for ourselves and for all with whom we share the planet.

 

Brother Toby



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