Sacred Restraint

Lenten Practice: Fasting
Daily Act: When we move toward lives of simplicity, we use less of the Earth’s precious resources as well. Today, choose to conserve in a way that will be a blessing to creation. Decrease or eliminate your use of electricity, water, or fuel for one day. Repeat this week’s prayer phrase throughout your day.
Weekly Prayer Phrase: Repeat this phrase slowly as you breathe deeply. You may choose to memorize this phrase and repeat it throughout your day.

“OPEN ME TO RECEIVE MORE OF YOU.”

By Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

One of my first revelatory moments of recognizing the incarnate God came in the mundane choice to recycle. I held the plastic bottle in my hands and faced the temptation of convenience. While the trash bin was right beside me, the recycle bin was across the room and around the corner.

A phrase from my eco-theology class drifted into my consciousness, “The whole world is the body of God.” (Sallie McFague)

If the whole earth is sacred, then earth care is also prayer.
Each act of earth care is healing, co-creation, relationship.

I chose to walk to the recycle bin, each step prayerful. I held the bottle above the bin with a ceremonial slowness and released it with a full-hearted intention. It is difficult to explain the peace and purpose that can come from living in a way that recognizes and honors our inherent interconnectedness with all life. That this is biological and spiritual evokes awe in me, and abounding gratitude.

Today our act of emptying is linked to a prayerful act of earth healing. In Red, Terry Tempest Williams suggests, “We have forgotten the option of restraint.” We have become so accustomed to convenience that the option of intentionally restraining seems almost foolish. Why would I choose to sit in the dark one night when I can turn on the light? Why would I choose to walk somewhere when I can drive? It is countercultural to imagine that restraint from what is readily accessible could be a form of prayer.

And consider this: What gift could a night in the dark bring? If you unplugged for an evening, what might be yearning to emerge within you that is currently being drowned out by the constant murmur of the television? If you chose to walk instead of drive, what might you notice along the way? What new neighbor might you meet? What new insight might a few moments of fresh air bring?

Lent is a call to Christian simplicity. We enter this time to remove every distraction from fullest life in God… every distraction.

Terry Tempest Williams describes her choice to move to the desert as seeking the more of life in a deliberate emptiness. “We wanted more. We wanted less. We wanted more time, fewer distractions. We wanted more time together, time to write, to breathe, to be more conscious with our lives. We wanted to be closer to wild places where we could walk and witness the seasonal changes, even the changing constellations… In the vastness of the desert, I want to create my days as a ceremony around s l o w n e s s ….”

While many of us can’t just move to the desert, we can begin to see more clearly the link between our spiritual health and the health of the planet we call home.

How might the more we are seeking be living within the invitation of less?

REMINDER: March 1, 2015 is the registration deadline for our upcoming Lenten Retreat with Presiding Evangelist, David Brock. The theme is INTO THE WILDERNESS (March 13-15). If you are seeking a deeper exploration of the season of Lent in your life and yearn to grow closer with God, we would love to share this experience with you! Email khmclaughlin@cofchrist.org if you have any questions.

Lenten Spiritual Retreat with Presiding Evangelist David Brock.  March 13-15, 2015 Click here to register!

Lenten Spiritual Retreat with Presiding Evangelist David Brock.
March 13-15, 2015
Click here to register!

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