Lenten Formation: Daily Reflection 1

Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator shall go before you,
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.
Isaiah 58:6-9, NRSV

If giving something up, or adding something to, our daily living is good for Lent; shouldn’t we be doing it all the time? I have wrestled with these questions. I’ve had the cynical attitude; but I have discovered rich layers of meaning and formation through Lenten encounter. Each experience of Lent leads me more deeply into the next. It is not simply the “giving up” or “adding to” that makes Lent meaningful. In fact, we must be careful not to let fasting and almsgiving reflect self-righteousness or self-centered privilege. –Janné Grover, Lenten Formation

Reflect: 

  • If you have chosen to fast for Lent, spend some time prayerfully considering your fast so far. What are your intentions for fasting? What are you noticing as you engage in this ancient spiritual practice?
  • Spend a few moments considering your social, economic, and religious “location” in the world. When is your expression of faith from this location potentially self-righteous or a reflection of privilege? What does it mean in your life to carefully discern faithful response?
  • How are you invited into the deeper layers of meaning and formation during the Lenten season? Prayerfully read the text above from Isaiah 58:6-9. What is God’s invitation for you in this text?

Walking the Ancient Way

by Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

Last night I had the privilege of attending a candle light labyrinth walk in the heart of Grace Cathedral. Two women tended our walking with taizé songs. As I walked into this ancient symbol, I strained to make meaning of it. I wanted to experience the path so badly, that I was missing what the path itself had to say. I wanted to package it up and turn it into the perfect metaphor. I wanted to be able to tell stories for years to come about what happened to me while I walked the ancient way.

Then, a wisdom arose from the walking, gently urging me to release my agenda of making meaning. “You are turning this into an object in your story,” said the voice within, “Meaning comes as grace. You discover meaning. It is revealed. It is revealed by being fully present along the way.”

I took a deep breath and let go of my expectations. For once, I set aside my need to control an outcome. I just paid attention to each curve of the path and to the way my bare feet felt on the cool stone. I paid attention to the lofty architecture that inspires the imagination with the expansiveness of the divine. I paid attention to my fellow travelers- joyful, reverent, seeking. I noticed, and loved, how they walked the way. I walked my way to release, to grace, to longing, to wholeness. Meaning began unfolding all around me unmanufactured, abundant in accessibility.

As I considered the Lenten journey we are on together, and the insight I received in the Labyrinth last night, this blessing by Jan Richardson was on repeat in my heart. I want to share it with you as you consider how you walk this ancient way.

Walking Blessing by Jan Richardson
That each step may be a shedding,
That you will let yourself become lost.
That when it looks like you’re going backwards,
You may be making progress.
That progress is not the goal anyway,
But presence
To the feel of the path on your skin,
To the way it reshapes you
In each place it makes contact
To the way you cannot see it
Until the moment you have stepped out.