REASONS TO BE IN AWE

Lenten Practice: Holy Attention
Daily Act: Find reasons to be in awe. What amazes you 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.

“AWAKEN ME TO YOUR PRESENCE IN AND THROUGH ALL CREATION.”

by Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

“We must learn to acknowledge that the creation is full of mystery; we will never entirely understand it. We must abandon arrogance and stand in awe.” Wendell Berry, The Art of the Commonplace

A million miracles wait to greet us in every moment of the day.
The gift holy attention can bring is wider perspective.

I take a sip of my coffee and ponder its origins: Fair Trade Bolivian.

Where did these exact beans come from? I imagine the elements of the South American landscape that nurtured them to fullest life. I close my eyes and begin to see the soil that formed them, the sun that warmed them, the hands that picked them for a fair wage.

And whose hands, specifically? What woman or man, with a pulsing alive heart, with dreams and sorrows, with a family and community and story, reached out to harvest what I now enjoy? What was the thought in their mind at the exact moment they reached for these beans? What is their home like and what of their life? What events surrounded their day as they held in their work-worn hands the beans I ground fresh this morning which now join in awakening me to the holy of this day?

I revel at our connectedness.
I sip with new reverence.
I pray blessing upon the worker’s well-being who brought me this coffee this day, and the particular piece of earth that has been designated for this harvest.
O God- may my actions, small and large, honor the sacredness of the whole of creation.

Holy attention may also be the beginning of justice.

It is something so simple that can so easily be cast aside, rushed through on the way to more “important” things.

But take a moment to imagine this: I live in Ohio. There is still snow on the ground and I am drinking coffee from Bolivia.

A miracle!
Ancient enough ancestors would not believe it.

The day has barely begun and already I am in awe at an ordinary act, at how our lives are holy connected beyond what we can know. Already I can see how my choices create or diminish potential for God’s dream of peace to be made real.

I have not yet stepped outside to see the mystery of God in the face of my neighbors, or the possibility of spring waiting to break forth from barren branches, or to witness how the sun turns to gold everything within it’s reach.

If you look, really look, at whatever is before you and allow a sacred curiosity to emerge from your soul, you will find unceasing reasons to be in awe.

The Practice of Holy Attention: “Engaging in the practice of holy attention allows us to suspend our inner conversations and agendas and give reverent and receptive focus to a specific person or portion of God’s creation. Respecting another as an unrepeatable miracle whose life journey is unique and sacred brings awareness to and affirmation of God’s presence in all creation. We do this in the spirit of Christ who saw into the deep hearts of people and recognized their true identities as God’s beloved. During Lent, as we continue to empty ourselves (fasting) and evaluate our lives (examen), we begin to make space for awareness of where God is showing up in the world around us.” (2015 Guide for Lent, Community of Christ)

MAKING SPACE FOR GOD

Lenten Practice: Fasting
Daily Act: Choose to eliminate one task from your schedule today. Spend that time intentionally dwelling in God’s presence, even if only for a moment!
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

Creating space can be hard. Our basic need to feel needed competes with the humble reminder that we are not in control.

This is what Lent has come to say to us. Yes, our responsibilities and commitments matter. We are connected to one another and our choices impact all the other lives in contact with our own. Yet, it is a wider perspective that Lent brings us. It is an invitation to see everything we did not make and cannot do, to cease the anxious pace of “not enough”, to discover renewal in humility.

It is the invitation to rest, for once, for a moment, maybe even for a while, in our belovedness as children of God- created, enough.

A couple weeks ago, some responsibilities were canceled due to frigid temperatures and harsh winter winds in Northeast Ohio. I allowed the winter storm to bring a Sabbath blessing. I stopped. I laid down everything expected of me. As I eased into the day, I felt my anxieties lessen. The world did not stop after all. What I had perceived as a thin thread holding everything together in my life began to feel more like a rope- reliable, strong to hold.

This isn’t just about feeling good individually. Sabbath has systemic impact. Just as we think everyone around us is impacted when we lay something down, everyone is impacted when we refuse to stop and breathe. Everyone includes the people closest to us, our communities, and the earth that is our home. Sabbath keeping is an act of justice, a radical counter-cultural way in a world that measures worth by accumulation of busyness and achievement.

Space making is peace making.
Sabbath is the threshold to shalom.

May you breathe deeper this day as you create space within for the God who says- you are enough.

The Peace of Wild Things
By Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.