Tag Archives: Liturgy

Lent Day 6: Joy and Confession

I am sure you are thinking, What a strange juxtaposition for a title! Joy and confession? How do those two go together? I am not entirely sure theydogo together completely, but I can tell you that I am beginning to experience pure joy again. I find myself laughing with reckless abandon more, and I find myself getting incredibly grumpy and sad less. And it hasn’t simply been the past six days while praying three times a day, following the liturgical hours; this joy has been slowly growing—like the bright green moss on the hillside by the river—since the new year started. I posted the other day, maybe yesterday, how I feel like I am finally taking control over my moods, rather than them controlling me, but just today, I felt complete joy. I actually threw my head back and laughed my big belly laugh. And I wasn’t embarrassed by it. Which, in turn, gave me more joy. I am no longer the shadow person I have been.

Part of my joy comes from observing Lent and knowing that in a few short weeks, we’ll be celebrating the resurrection of Jesus. But another good portion of my joy comes from suggestions picked up from Pema Chodron’s The Wisdom of No Escape and the Path of Lovingkindness. InWisdom, Chodron advocates making friends with those parts of us that cause us anger, aggression, or aversion, because those attributes that irritate us about others are the same that irritate us about ourselves. Through the act of making friends with those attributes, and no longer trying to rid ourselves of those attributes, we learn to give kindness to others. Our desire to rid ourselves of those qualities results in an aggression toward those qualities when we see them in others. We become unkind to both others and ourselves. Because Chodron teaches how to be kind, I feel like I can begin to honestly look at myself and decipher what it is that I don’t like about myself, recognize that those features are simply part of who I am, make peace with that, and eventually stop trying to remove those attributes from myself and from others, thereby gaining a kindness and a sense of peace in regards to myself and others.

(Side note: My next spiritual read is Thich Nhat Hahn’s Living Buddha, Living Christ.)

How can Inotexperience joy when I have made friends with my whole self, with all of my attributes?

This is where confession comes in. First, I must closely self-examine to figure out what those attributes are that I don’t like about myself. Once I decipher that, I must confess those qualities to myself, to others, to God even. Through this confession, I name my weaknesses or those things which cause me pain. I claim them out loud. I call them what they are. Then I make friends with them, not “comfortable, hey let’s go have some pizza and beers friends,” but I acknowledge that those qualities are a part of who I am, and I sit with them. Get to know them. Make friends, like “sitting on opposite ends of the couch, but I am not trying to kick you out” friends. My weaknesses and I learn to coexist after I confess them. And through our coexistence they eventually cease to be a cause for anger or malice or injury. They just are.

I confess that there are a whole bucket of attributes of my personality of my life that irritate me, that I need to make friends with. And I hope that once I make friends with those facets, they will just sit at the other end of that couch and be quiet. That’s my biggest flaw: I don’t know when to be quiet. Maybe I need to take a silent retreat. Every day. One of the things I appreciate about this Buddhist idea of embracing our own flaws is that I don’t end up with a bucket of shame at what I’ve confessed about myself. I end up, instead, with a changed heart. Too many times, Christians miss this bit and would rather shame someone than encourage their wholeness. That, in and of itself, is a shame.

This whole discussion brings me around to what prompted these thoughts. Part of the evening prayer, which I have been praying for six days without recognizing this part, says, “You are worthy at all times to be praised by happy voices, O Son of God, O Giver of Life, your glory fills the whole world.” I think this part jumped out at me tonight, because for the first time in a long time, my heart feels light and joyful. I’m going to cling to that joy.

Peace.

Lent Day 3: Date Night

Today I kept up with the common prayers, and I find that it settles my otherwise erratic personality. Maybe between the niacin, vitamin C, paleo diet, and following the daily liturgy, I can make a way to keep myself on track emotionally. If you read this blog at all, you know that’s something I struggle with, and it’s finally something I feel like I am getting a strong hold on, or control over, rather than it controlling me. Maybe one day, I’ll be able to get past writing about it.

I also had the opportunity today to go on a date with my significant other. We went to Indianapolis to pick up a friend of ours, so we decided to make a special time of it. First we went to Rock Bottom Brewery and had a couple of beers, then we walked through Circle Center Mall for a bit, really just using it to walk to and from our car without being lambasted by the ridiculous Indiana spring-winter wind. Finally, we picked Elizabeth up at the train station, and then went to Peppy Grill in Fountain Square.

The workers at Peppy are amazing. Talk about your sassy, ornery, short order cooking and serving staff. I never leave disappointed, even when I realize that my corned beef hash comes directly from a Hormel can (not so paleo/primal) and gets heated up on the grill. I think I may leave that dish for Brunchies and just return to my ham and eggs at Peppy. But it was still good, of course, and greasy spoon!

Beautiful Sky on Binford in Indy

Looking South on Meridian and Vermont: Monument Circle

South Side of the Circle: Turning onto Meridian

After A Rock Bottom White Ale: A Little Out of Focus

1004 Virginia Avenue: Peppy Grill

Good Thing We Had Three People

Corned Beef Hash for My Love and Me

Today was a nothing’s profound, but everything’s lovely, kind of day. Peace.

Lent Day 2: Miseducation and Common Prayer

I’m sitting in Bracken Library, taking a break from scanning pictures into the computer for my students most recent project, and it’s a little bit eerie in here. There are probably only 25 or 30 people at the computers, if that, and it’s very quiet, even here on the first floor. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the library quiet like this. Today has been strange all around, though, so I am not sure I should be surprised about the library.

Today was the last day of Istep for the 8th graders, so tomorrow we move back to doing our regular classroom stuff, instead of being broken up and spread around for testing, so my stress level will surely go back down. The students told me they thought the test was easy, which either means they did really well or really poorly. I think they were trying to tell me that, so I would feel like they had done super well. One student even said, “It’s because you taught us so well.” I have no doubts I teach well, but I will see in a few months how well they did on this stupid test, which is all that really matters now isn’t it? Two days makes or breaks a student. And his or her teacher.

Anyway, I did receive another blessing today. When I got home, I had yet another book that I purchased with my Amazon points waiting in my mailbox: The Miseducation of Cameron Post. I made the mistake of starting to read it, and now I don’t really want to do anything else. Obviously, if you clicked the link, you notice the secular nature of the text, but to me, the subject is so intimately intertwined with my spirituality, I can’t see a difference.

Church people insist that our sexuality reflects our spirituality by encouraging people to remain virgins until marriage for the sake of religious purity, so it only makes sense to me that our sexuality is somehow an act of worship. Maybe this is why I nearly weep when I find a book that speaks to my soul like this one. I keep finding myself thinking, Where was this book in 1987? My life would’ve been so different if literature like this had existed then. I might have realized at a much earlier age who I really am. I might not have been so lost for so much of adolescence. But I can’t go back, nor do I want to!

As I am reading this book it makes me think about how intricately woven we are as human beings, how delicately God put us together, but yet how hardy we are. I mean let’s face it: humans are fragile but resilient. We can crack or break, but we can take a lot of shit before we do. In a strange way, I think that’s what Lent is about. God wants us to recognize that we are fragile, but that we are designed to weather the storm, whatever that entails. Jesus wants us to follow him to that cross, where our resilience meets our obedience meets our fragility.

For the first time, today I tried to pray the various prayers throughout the day from Common Prayer, and I think it went well. I noticed that it made me think through the day about who I am in Christ. I love that the midday prayers are the same every day and I love that one of those prayers is St. Francis’s: “Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.” And of course he goes on: “For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.” How beautiful. And if we really pray it and believe it, how can we not be transformed?

Through these ritual prayers, I realized that I was more conscious on some levels about how I conducted myself in the classroom and with colleagues, but praying through the hours also drew attention to the fact that I am so far from where I want to be spiritually. However, praying so frequently and with a specific prodding to pray for others really made me think hard about those around me who need prayer, love, grace, and my action. And so I continue to learn.

Peace.

Ash Wednesday 2012

For Lent this year, I am going to try to post something here each day. Maybe I will post a blessing that I have experienced for the day, maybe it will be a bit of Scripture I read that day, or maybe it will simply be an anecdote or story. No matter what, though, my goal is to post for 46 days straight, from now until Easter.

Today, I just want to acknowledge that it’s Ash Wednesday, and I missed going to a service. Last year, I was in Florida and went to Sebring’s nice Methodist Church. This year, I was going to go this morning to St. Mary’s, but I wasn’t sure if a sort of Protestant, kind of Buddhist woman could attend a Catholic Ash Wednesday service. I guess it’s only the Eucharist that they’re insular about, and other ceremonies are not so important as that. It’s okay, Catholic folks, I believe in transubstantiation too.

As I was walking from my free parking space by St. Mary’s into school this morning, I started thinking about Lent, because if there is one traditional thing I hold onto about Christianity, it’s the Church calendar. I love the way the seasons ebb and flow, and I love that it marks up the year into manageable pieces. The Christian calendar is like the seasonal calendar, reminding me about who I am and who God is. For example, Lent for me is a time of penance and so is winter. Advent is a time of anticipation and rebirth, so is spring. You see, the same, but different.

But I digress, as I was walking into school this morning, I thought about whether or not I’d do anything for Lent this year. By “do anything,” I mean give up something, or the new version of that, which is to add something, and I decided that I’d try to write here every day, and I’d start celebrating the liturgy through Common Prayer. My friend Sarah had heard Shane Claiborne speak and purchased the book, and I’d heard about it, but hadn’t purchased it, so I thought I’d give it a try. I ordered it, but it wasn’t supposed to be delivered until the 23-28 of February. So, as I walked this morning, I thought to myself, well, when that book gets here, I’ll get started with my spiritual practice for Lent. I figured it would be here when I got back from Chicago next weekend, so I’d be a bit behind. Sure enough, Common Prayer was delivered in today’s mail.

Tonight I’m reading the introduction. Peace.