the ponderings of a mother

These are the ponderings of a mother in love with her children, both in my arms and in the grave. Some of these ponderings are quite emotional, some are funny, others contemplative and spiritual. All are sincere. May these writings bless you in many ways and bring you closer to the one, true God and Redeemer of all things.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Lines Have Fallen

Lent is coming. That time of the church year when we prepare our hearts for Holy Week, remembering Christ’s death and resurrection.  It is forty days in length from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday (for those of you counting, you need to subtract all the Sundays; Sunday remains a day of celebrating the resurrection of Christ, even during the season of Lent).  People of many denominations observe lent in various manners. Our practice is to listen to what season our individual lives are in and join with God in whatever spiritual practice seems appropriates as opposed to following a mandated fasting or discipline from a priest or pastor (though there can be great value in communal fasting). 

Since last September I have been leading a women’s group in our home, although I would say I am more of the facilitator than leader, God the Holy Spirit really is the one leading us every week. We spend time weekly in silence together listening to God on one other’s behalf. It has proved to be a transformational time for all involved. Since Elsa was born I was on “maternity leave” so to speak and just began again this week.  We have begun our preparations for Lent. We are sharing where our lives are right now, discerning where God is intersecting them, and choosing our individual focus for this Lenten season (it begins next Wednesday, Feb. 22nd, by the way).  We will each have our individual focus for this season, but we will be working that out in our lives within community together. We will help one another along when we get stuck, pray for one another, and encourage one another with Scripture and words. 

As I have joined the Anglican Church this practice has come alive to me in new ways. Two years ago was my first Lent with the Anglican Church. I was also in a Spiritual Direction Group (similar to the one I now facilitate).  I was able to share my life openly and they were able to speak to be truthfully and graciously (a most important combination! Grace without Truth is the path to heresy and lacks transformative power in our lives; Truth without Grace is harsh and judgmental. Both are most important.)  Within this group I found the accountability supportive and clarity with which others could see into me freeing. I could try to hide darker places within, but the group saw into me and spoke to me in love. We did this for one another. They also spoke to the beautiful places within, which I find many of us are just as likely to hide from…uncertain of the how to offer the best of ourselves to the world without pride or arrogance.  Community is good for these things. That Lenten season of 2010 proved to be transformational for me. 

Fast forward to Lent 2011, I was not in the group; I was on my own but was certain of my focus. I made confession to a priest and was greeted with such grace and kindness. It surprises me every time. The Lenten season offered time to turn away from that and turn toward replacing that with something else as I sought God to change my heart.  That time continues to be like a seed planted, growing over time into a place that will bear fruit more and more over the years. However, it lacked what the previous year had…


So, here I am this year facilitating a group so that we can all walk together toward that which we are being called to by God. It is different for each of the women in the group, but the same God is Lord of us all and we will walk together toward Him together.

My struggle as I approach this Lenten season 2012 has been the uncertainty of which spiritual discipline will I put in place in my life.  I have not felt any particular direction or thing to turn away from, and I have been a bit sad.  I long for that experience of turning toward God in a new way and getting to know Him more. I was beginning to feel I may miss out.  This week in our group we each shared a snapshot of where our lives are.  I was the last to share and the best thing I could come up with was that my “lines have fallen in pleasant places.”  I have been walking such a fire-filled road for so many years, crises after crises around each turn.  And now I am in a place of good. No major crisis for the season. I am blessed on the outside (I say outside, as I would argue, and believe I held onto the fact, that I was always blessed internally. God was always present to me and I knew it. Deeply. He never abandoned me and I knew it. Deeply. ) Now, however, my days are pleasant. I am able to remain with my beautiful daughter day after day attending to the formation of this sweet soul.  My husband has a job. We love where we live. We are engaged in our church and able to give after so much time of receiving (both important to the healing of one’s soul).  We have all the food we need. I have a place to wash our clothes. We are warm in the cold months. We have wonderful friends around us. I have energy to engage relationships.  Spring is here already within our home.  King David’s words come to mind:
The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup;
You hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
Indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
                                                                                                Psalm 16:5-6

The Lord has always been my chosen portion, and I have always had the beautiful inheritance, the hope of heaven. But the lines have not always fallen in pleasant places. Meaning, in King David’s time, that the boundary lines of his land are great. He has a full life. He enjoys what he has been given.  My lines have been blurred and moved around these past years. I felt uncertainty about so many things. But now, my lines have fallen in pleasant places.

As I shared this with my group whining (well, not really) about how I felt so filled up that I had no idea where my focus, my spiritual discipline, should be for Lent. One woman said “Well, that seems like a great time for worship.”  I laughed the truthful simplicity of her statement. True, what a great discipline to turn toward for this season. Specifically, I will be practicing the discipline of Celebration.  What? You think that is not a real discipline because it is just sounds too great? Me, too J But the reality is Scripture is full of Celebration. It is essential to the health of our inner life. Our group is using the Spiritual Disciplines Handbook by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun as our guide (I highly recommend having this one on your shelf). There are 64 different disciplines in this book. Done with the right spirit inside, they all bring life within.  I am excited to write more about spiritual disciplines in the next week!

Lent is not just about giving up [fill in the blank], though at times it is. But sometimes it is about adding [fill in the blank]. Never a dull day following Christ.  Ordinary days…certainly…but never dull.

Please join me through Lent as I enter the discipline of Celebration beginning Ash Wednesday.

What are you turning from or turning toward during this Lenten season? I would love to hear. 

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