Message: Rooster’s Call, Hen’s Wings
Ash Wednesday is the starting point of Lent. We are marked with ashes as we begin the season. We go from feasting to a season of fasting, praying, and giving.
Or perhaps we can think of Lent as a season of personal training, of discipline and preparation, to return to spiritual fitness. It’s a time when, through confession, we admit and wrestle with our issues, vulnerabilities and weaknesses … and get to know ourselves better. We seek healing and balance.
This is also an opportunity to understand that we are beloved for whom we are: messy and imperfect and broken. Just as we are beloved for whom we may become. Because the gift of this season, ultimately, is grace. We can prepare, we can focus … yet we cannot earn the boundless love toward which we are reaching. It is simply offered to us, regardless of how perfect or imperfect we are. Just because.
Ashes symbolize mortality, as well as humility and contrition. The proudest members of society, in many faith traditions, don sackcloth and wear ashes as signs of humility, to express sorrow, or to demonstrate a desire for reconciliation and forgiveness. Ashes represent, like “dust to dust”, our elemental origins and remind us that our bodies will return to the earth. Within our faith, we also believe that while our bodies are formed from organic materials, our living selves are filled up with and energized by Breath, Wind, or Holy Spirit, which animates life and connects all of us.
Traditionally, people receive ashes today, Ash Wednesday, as a smudge or cross on the forehead. We come to this season in a messy way, wearing our imperfection on our faces. Messy, sad, sorry, tired, angry, grateful, hopeful, happy, curious … we enter into this time of preparation, on the journey toward Easter.
“what the heart hears”
Speak my name
Meet me here
I am not your enemy
I am your teacher
I may even be your friend
Let us tell our truth together, you and I
My name is anger: I say you have been wronged
My name is shame: my story is your hidden pain
My name is fear: my story is vulnerability
My name is resentment: I say things should have been different
My name is grief
My name is depression
My name is heartache
I have many names
And many lessons
I am not your enemy
I am your teacher
(excerpt from chapter: ‘naming the hurt’ from The Book of Forgiving by Desmond and Mpho Tutu,
see also: www.humanjourney.com)
Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone’s face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love? These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will bear many fruits, here in this world and the life to come. — Henry Nouwen
Holding onto anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned. — Buddha
Love implies anger. The man who is angered by nothing cares about nothing. — Edward Abbey
“We cannot overcome anger and hatred simply by suppressing them. We need to actively cultivate the antidotes to hatred: patience and tolerance … When we are engaged in the practice of patience and tolerance, in reality, what is happening is you are engaged in a combat with hatred and anger.” — Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Daiai Lama from The Art of Happiness
“Actuarial File” (excerpts) by Jean Valentine
Orange peels, burned letters, the car lights shining on the grass,
everything goes somewhere—and everything we do—nothing
ever disappears. But changes …
“Everything that happens, happens once and for all. Is this true?
If so, what then?”
Yes. Your story; all of your hope; what you do, breaks. Changes.
“If so, what then?” Nothing disappears. And you do last …
Come stay here, at my place, a while.—Someday we will be able
to say, I did this thing; I did that other thing; I was that woman.
Someday, we will be able to take it in, that violence, hold it in our
hands … And the ones who come after us, maybe they can
understand us; forgive us; as we do forgive our parents, our
grandparents, moving so distantly through their lives … their
silences … And the ones we were with maybe our friendship can change, can mend …
Come stay here. Things change …
“If there is to be reconciliation, first there must be truth.”
— Timothy Tyson from Blood Done Sign My Name
“Whether victim or perpetrator, part of being human is rolling up our sleeves and taking an active part in repairing harm.” – Katy Hutchison & Ryan Aldridge from TheForgivenessProject.com
“Truth can be told in an instant, forgiveness can be offered spontaneously, but reconciliation is the work of lifetimes and generations.” — Krista Tippett from Speaking of Faith
The poet dreams of the mountain by Mary Oliver
Sometimes I grow weary of the days, with all their fits and starts.
I want to climb some old gray mountains, slowly, taking
The rest of my lifetime to do it, resting often, sleeping
Under the pines or, above them, on the unclothed rocks.
I want to see how many stars are still in the sky
That we have smothered for years now, a century at least.
I want to look back at everything, forgiving it all,
And peaceful, knowing the last thing there is to know.
All that urgency! Not what the earth is about!
How silent the trees, their poetry being of themselves only.
I want to take slow steps, and think appropriate thoughts.
In ten thousand years, maybe, a piece of the mountain will fall.