One of my favorite daily rituals is opening my email inbox to find a daily meditation from The Center for Action and Contemplation. Last week, I happened to receive not one, but TWO emails and the second one was a brief note on Lent, the season that is now upon us.
I come from a Pentecostal-Charismatic Christian upbringing and one thing I never learned about in church was the Christian calendar. We celebrated Easter and Christmas, but there was not much mention of Advent or Lent. In fact, as I write and reflect, my perception was that Lent was a purely Catholic practice. And I once believed that Catholicism was “bad” and “wrong”. I’ve grown a good bit since then, thank God! Anyway, I have come to appreciate spiritual practice as I age and Advent and Lent are two that although they seem to creep up on me before I’m ready, always tend to find me anyway. Ash Wednesday came and went and I did not spend much time reflecting. And now here we are, what – two weeks in already? Oy vey. I’m grateful for the emails I get from the CAC that help me remember to pause and reflect during these seasons. Each email I get from them seems to hit me on a profoundly deep spiritual level, sometimes one that I am not ready for in the moment but will spend time with in the days, weeks, sometimes months following. I’m still contemplating an email that was written for Advent and it’s been three months. But that is the beauty of contemplation, isn’t it? We come across something so deep and meaningful, something that our soul is fascinated with and finds terrifyingly true, yet it takes time to settle in to a psyche that is conditioned a certain way.
What I wanted to share with you is something I continue to learn. From the email last week: “the word Lent comes from the Old English lencten, time of spring and new life. Of course, in the contemplative tradition there’s an awareness that in order to allow new life to come forth, we have to go about the inner work of recognition and letting go – of ‘dying before we die’ (a quote attributed to the Sufi poet, Rumi, as an invitation to live fully – the way we would if we knew we only had a few more breaths to take.” These words spoken by that wise Sufi poet call to me, beckon me to make this choice to live this way for the rest of my life. Interestingly, I have been drawn to the Scriptures a lot recently and happened upon Psalm 90:12, a verse my brain is connecting with Rumi’s philosophy: Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom. Wisdom teaches us that life is short and not a lesson we learn via the intellect alone. It is a lesson we learn with our whole being, a lesson of mind, body, and heart. This lesson has presented itself to me yet again in this more recent season of my life. It has presented itself before, and I think it slipped out of my awareness for a little while, but it is returning again and I am paying attention now.
A meditative prayer for your soul today:
Teach me to realize the brevity of life so that I may grow in wisdom.
May I be open and not afraid.
Help me to trust so that I may be free.
Open my eyes, help me to see.
Help me to die before I die,
To let go of what I cannot control.
If I’m honest I am afraid,
But I will trust anyway.
Oh great Love, carry me today.