Mardi Gras---fat Tuesday--the celebration of lent. Actually the debauchery the day before lent begins--filled with gluttony and excess--gumbo and Jack. By Christian tradition lent is the time when we sacrifice something (like gumbo and Jack)--when, in a sense, we do penance for, well, whatever, and prove our worthiness in the face of God by forgoing something that we feel is important. Historically, I was pretty cynical about lent, so I would give up things, like pomegranates, that I really never cared about in the first place.
But there is another way to see sacrifice--that is that we give up something in order to take on something better. So each year for the last four years I have asked you to use this Lenten season to concentrate on a spiritual practice--to forgo half an hour of TV, or reading, or something and exchange it for half an hour of doing something with spiritual intention. This could be just about anything that allows you to focus your intention on what you deem spiritual. Walking in the woods, meditating, playing music with spiritual intent, praying, even exercise--but always with the caveat that you are bringing yourself back to working at making whatever it is that you are doing into a spiritual experience.
As most of you know, I have been a meditator for quite some time. If there is anything I have learned about spiritual practice it is that the operative word is practice. Like being a doctor, there is never a time with spiritual practice when you can not improve on what you already do. After serious meditation for more than 25 years, it takes significant effort to reach 5 minutes of a mind that "goes with the flow" during any 30 minute attempt--30 seconds to 1 minute is more likely. Practice as I may, the rewards sometimes seem a bit slim. All the same, I have also learned that it is not the outcome, but merely showing up that is important.
So when I ask you to do you spiritual practice for this Lenten season, all I am asking is that you show up. Success is a fleeting master, and a difficult partner with which to stay connected. But intention, and committing to the process is pride building and eye-opening. It truly offers you a pathway to your spirit and it gives you the an opportunity to explore the beliefs about that drive your spiritual ground of being.
So rather than to just give something up for lent--take something on. Take on the challenge of getting to know your spirit better.
Peace and energy,
This Sunday we have our annual congregational meeting. All members and friends are invited to attend and participate in this important gathering. As a self-governing community that is entirely responsible for our own material and spiritual well-being, your input is important and valuable to helping your board makes decisions. Your contributions to the process make the board's job easier and assures that the needs of the congregation are met.
One of the most powerful things about our form of governing is the truly democratic nature of how we operate. The board needs your input to establish appropriate priorities and to create and operate with a budget that is both balanced and sensible.
Please make a point to come and give us your input.
A couple of other notes: we have added a section to the Website under "Schedule" called "Pastoral Availability." It points out my availability for pastoral counseling and or spiritual direction. Please remember that these services are available to you and your family as part of the mission of the church, and I urge to to take advantage of them as you see fit. Contact me for an appointment, or drop in every other Thursday (see chant schedule for drop-in dates).
Also notice that my chant schedule is in place.
Hope to see you Sunday,
Peace and energy,
Rev. Ben Fowler
On this page I will occasionally make entries which will speak to the good works of the our church, to the spirit of our members or just to make observations about the nature of the spirit and life as I see it. Please make comments and add your own thoughts.