LENTEN RESOURCES

Acts of Kindness & Giving for Lent
(guides and calendars sourced from several organizations)

Reflections and Meditations

  • Coloring the Psalms Devotional Guide and Coloring Pages.
    *Already printed and available* at front of church, which is always open. Or accessible as downloadable multi-page PDF files from Jackson Community Church’s website. Due to licensing, the link will be sent by email to all church friends and members … if you want to participate, and didn’t receive this email already, sign up on this site to receive our email and we will forward the links to download the PDF files. Or email us directly for the link.
  • UCC (United Church of Christ)’s Still Speaking Daily Devotional messages. Sign up to receive these.
  • UCC (United Church of Christ)’s Still Speaking Podcast. Sign up for podcast
  • Mindfulness Applications for computers and mobile devices from Thich Nhat Hahn’s Plum Village (in the engaged Buddhist tradition)
  • Jan Richardson’s Painted Prayerbook blog entries
  • Maren Tirabassi’s Gifts in Open Hands blog with daily Lenten posts
  • Daily Meditations by Fr Richard Rohr, sign up to receive these
  • Living Lent Daily: Ignatian Spirituality daily meditations for Lent . Sign up to receive daily email meditations and devotional activities.
  • Social Justice Lectionary: Downloadable guide to readings and activities surrounding social justice issues. Extension of MLK Day initiatives.

Meditations: Risks, Rising & Renewal (Holy Week)

Bread by Helena Minton
The dough rises in the sun,
History of the human race inside it
Orgies, famines, Christianity,
Eras when a man could have his arm
Chopped off for stealing  half a loaf.
I punch it down, knead the dark
Flour unto the light, let it bake,
Then set it on the table beside the knife,
Learning the power,
Cooks have over others, the please
Of saying eat.

The Exodus from Egypt occurs in every human being, in every era, in every year, and in every day. — Rabbi Nachman of Breslov

The Seder nights… tie me with the centuries before me. — Ludwig Fran

from A Short History of Israel, Notes and Glosses By Charles Reznikoff
XI
A hundred generations, yes, a hundred and twenty-five,
had the strength each day
not to eat this and that (unclean!)
not to say this and that,
not to do this and that (unjust!),
and with all this and all that
to go about
as men and Jews
among their enemies
(these are the Pharisees you mocked at, Jesus).
Whatever my grandfathers did or said
for all of their brief lives
still was theirs,
as all of it drops at a moment make the fountain
and all of its leaves a palm.
Each word they spoke and every thought
was heard, each step and every gesture seen,
by God;
their past was still the present and the present
a dread future’s.
But I am private as an animal.

I have eaten whatever I liked,
I have slept as long as I wished,
I have left the highway like a dog
to run into every alley;
now I must learn to fast and to watch.
I shall walk better in these heavy boots
than barefoot.
I will fast for you, Judah,
and be silent for you
and wake in the night because of you;
I will speak for you
in psalms,
and feast because of you
on unleavened bread and herbs.
Bread By Richard Levine
Each night, in a space he’d make
between waking and purpose,
my grandfather donned his one
suit, in our still dark house, and drove
through Brooklyn’s deserted streets
following trolley tracks to the bakery.

There he’d change into white
linen work clothes and cap,
and in the absence of women,
his hands were both loving, well
into dawn and throughout the day—
kneading, rolling out, shaping

each astonishing moment
of yeasty predictability
in that windowless world lit
by slightly swaying naked bulbs,
where the shadows staggered, woozy
with the aromatic warmth of the work.

Then, the suit and drive, again.
At our table, graced by a loaf
that steamed when we sliced it,
softened the butter and leavened
the very air we’d breathe,
he’d count us blessed.

The piece of bread is an ambassador of the cosmos offering nourishment and support … In the Christian tradition … The bread is Jesus. Jesus is not someone, something, that is outside the bread, Jesus is the bread. And with mindfulness, and concentration, you get in touch with Jesus. In Buddhism, we don’t say that, but we say the piece of bread in your hand is the body of the Cosmos. And when you see the sunshine, the cloud, the rain, the earth, everything in the piece of bread, you have seen the bread … A few seconds of mindfulness help you to see the bread as it is, as it is, the body of the Cosmos. Everything is in there. And with that, you put it into your mouth, and you get in touch with the whole Cosmos. You don’t have to think … there’s awareness … there’s getting in touch … there’s a feeling that’s inside. But there is no thinking. — Thich Nhat Hanh

The spiritual task of life is to feed hope. Hope is not something to be found outside of us. It lies in the spiritual life we cultivate within. The whole purpose of wrestling with life is to be transformed into the self we are meant to become, to step out of the confines of our false securities and allow our creating God to go on creating. In us. — Sr. Joan Chittister

Easter By Jill Alexander Essbaum

is my season
of defeat.

Though all
is green

and death
is done,

I feel alone.
As if the stone

rolled off
from the head

of the tomb
is lodged

in the doorframe
of my room,

and everyone
I’ve ever loved

lives happily
just past

my able reach.
And each time

Jesus rises
I’m reminded

of this marble
fact:

they are not
coming back.

Meditations: Sweetness at a cost: syrup from sap, dates from palms, peace from spiritual & political leaders

Date Palm Trinity (excerpt)
— Khaled Mattawa
… Those were my brothers who cowered beneath
the date palm to gather handfuls of fruit,
rubbing each date clean on their sleeves,
chewing softly to savor the taste
as though it were a good omen, and rising
to resume their lives, on their faces
the smiles of those who once were blessed.

 “Anniversaries of War” (excerpt)
— Yehuda Amichai (Translation by Barbara and Benjamin Harshav)

Remember: even the departure to terrible battles
passes by gardens and windows
and children playing, a dog barking.

Remind the fallen fruit
of its leaves and branches,
remind the sharp thorns
how soft and green they were in springtime,
and do not forget,
even a fist
was once an open palm and fingers.

Revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall. — Che Guevara

A nonviolent revolution is not a program of seizure of power. It is a program of transformation of relationships, ending in a peaceful transfer of power. — Mahatma Gandhi

They asked Gluskabe “where has our sweet drink gone?” … Gluskabe told them that if they wanted the syrup again that they would have to work hard to get it. — Excerpted from www.firstpeople.us

We must keep these waters for wild rice, these trees for maple syrup, our lakes for fish, and our land and aquifers for all of our relatives – whether they have fins, roots, wings, or paws. — Winona LaDuke

As preacher and teacher, he inverted the quotidian cross, always extolling the meek, the merciful, the peacemakers, and the poor. He pointed out how the everyday was holy. Jesus wore the regular fabric of humanity and by wearing it, he redeemed it. — Diana Butler Bass

You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership. – Nelson Mandela

Hope wasn’t a cottage industry; it was neither a product that she could manufacture like needlepoint samplers nor a substance she could secrete, in her cautious solitude, like a maple tree producing the essence of syrup. It had to be found in other people, by reaching out, by opening her fortress heart. — Dean Koontz

All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope. — Winston Churchill

My call for a spiritual revolution is thus not a call for a religious revolution. Nor is it a reference to a way of life that is somehow other-worldly, still less to something magical or mysterious. Rather, it is a call for a radical re-orientation away from our habitual preoccupation with self towards concern for the wider community of beings with whom we are connected, and for conduct which recognizes others’ interests alongside our own. — Dalai Lama

Today, Passover is used as an opportunity to reflect on the things that plague our world, to seek justice for the still-oppressed and even to bring together multi-faiths family and friends under the common banner of universal freedom. — “Passover 2011: The Unleavened Basics,” Huffington Post

The demoralisation born of their servitude was at an end; the ransomed people went forth to a sane and wholesome life, to a life of brave and large ideals. — Morris Joseph, “Passover,” Judaism as Creed and Life

A candle in a glass (excerpt)
— Marge Piercy from Available Light
Grandmother Hannah comes to me at Pesach
and when I am lighting the sabbath candles.
The sweet wine in the cup has her breath….
a little winter no spring can melt.

Abruptly All the Palm Trees
— William Jay Smith
Abruptly all the palm trees rose like parasols,
And sunlight danced, and green to greenness gave.
Birds flew forth and cast like waterfalls
Shadow upon shade.

… We stood, our blood as bright and fringed as shawls
Before the beautiful, progressing leaf.

Abruptly all the palm trees rose like parasols,
And green was the green which green to greenness gave.
Dimension crumbled, Time lay down its walls.
And all the world went wading towards the wave.

Meditations: immersing ourselves in wild creative energy of life & Spirit

As Kingfishers Catch Fire — Gerard Manley Hopkins
~~
As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying What I do is me: for that I came.

~~
I say more: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: that keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is —
Christ — for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.

The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize at the center of the universe dwells the Great Spirit, and that its center is really everywhere, it is within each of us. ― Black Elk

The Spirit breathes order into creation, but also energizes possibility amid the united, and often chaotic, processes of evolutionary becoming. Dabhar and ruach seem to arise from, and cocreate within, the same foundational energy that has intrigued mystics and scientists over several eons. Energy is a richly endowed concept in many of the great Eastern philosophies. The Chinese Chi, the Japanese Ki, and the Sanskrit Prana are understood to arise from a cosmic energy flow, a vital force hat courses throughout the entire universe … “Chi is a vital, dynamic, and original power that permeates the entire universe and leads to an ultimate unity,” writes theologian Grace ji-Sun Kim. It envelops the personal, social and cosmic realms. At one and the same time it is physical, psychological, and spiritual. —  Diarmuid O’Murchu from In the Beginning was the Spirit: Science, Religion, and Indigenous Spirituality

On life’s journey
plowing a small field
going and returning
— Basho

For ‘the Spirit breathes where He wills, and thou hearest His voice, but canst not tell whence He cometh or whither He goeth.’ He blesses the body that is baptized, and the water that baptizes. Despise not, therefore, the Divine laver, nor think lightly of it, as a common thing, on account of the use of water. For the power that operates is mighty, and wonderful are the things that are wrought thereby. — Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa

But then our solitude is overcome, we are no longer alone, for we find that our innermost self is the spirit, that it is God, the indivisible. And suddenly we find ourselves in the midst of the world, yet undisturbed by its multiplicity, for our innermost soul we know ourselves to be one with all being. ― Hermann Hesse

Fire —  Eunice Tietjiens
~~
Love, let us light
A fire tonight,
A wood fire on the hearth
~~
With torn and living tongues the flames leap.
Hungrily
They catch and lift, to beat their sudden wings
Toward freedom and the sky.
The hot wood sings
And crackles in a pungent ecstasy
That seems half pain of death, and half a vast
Triumphant exultation of release
That its slow life-time of lethargic peace
Should come to this wild rapture at the last.
~~
We watch it idly, and our casual speech
Drops slowly into silence.
Something stirs and struggles in me,
Something out of reach
Of surface thoughts, a a slow and formless thing –
Not I, but dim memory
Born of the dead behind me. In my blood
The blind race turns, groping and faltering.
~~
Desires
Only half glimpsed, not understood,
Stir me and shake me. Fires