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Dear People of Grace,
I keep being struck by the symbolism of this being 2020, with the constant invitations to reflect on vision and seeing-not just on a superficial level but on the deeper level of our spiritual heart. If 2020 is a year of seeing, then Lent just might be the concentrated time within this year when we get more serious about our spiritual practice. In an environment that feels hyper-focused on competition and power with questions of what we see (or don’t see) in others, Lent invites us to reflect on what we see in ourselves-honestly. Can we dare trust the Spirit enough to step into this vulnerable space of growth?
We begin the season by having ashes marked on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday and we end it by lighting a new fire at the Great Vigil of Easter. What we do between those moments is up to us, as it were, with the trust that the Holy Spirit is constantly inviting us into a conversion of life within this spiritual community.
I encourage you this Lent to practice deeply. Take a risk and step into a more vulnerable space, perhaps, reflecting on things you have carried with you for a long time. Perhaps this is a season for you to set down some burden. Perhaps this is a season for you to take up a practice that will help transform your heart.
For some, Lent is a time when they share in the intentional Sacrament of Reconciliation. You may be surprised to hear that we do have “Confession” in The Episcopal Church. It is a practice that I take seriously in my own life, as Cynthia does in hers. At certain points in our lives we need a tangible reminder of God’s grace-a reality that we sometimes take for granted, I think. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a deeply meaningful rite that we can share with you if you feel it would be a meaningful experience. As the adage goes for how we understand Confession: All May, None Must, Some Should.
Some have asked about recommendations for reading and study. I would commend to you the ongoing resource of Forward Day by Day for daily devotions. As well, you may find the Lenten devotional by Episcopal Relief and Development meaningful. Just a few copies remain at the information station but the booklet is also available online as a downloadable .pdf document or a podcast. Also, with our ongoing study in the Christian contemplative tradition, I would commend to you Richard Rohr’s The Universal Christ as well as Thomas Merton’s Contemplative Prayer. This phenomenal book, published by the Merton Trust after his death in 1968 has become a key resource for me in my own study and teaching.
And, please know that Cynthia and I are available to you, always. Lent really is a time that helps us focus on the deeper meaning of what we share in this amazing spiritual community, and we are honored to be here with you.