March 6, 2019
What I am Thinking About
It is Ash Wednesday – you may or may not know what that is, but likely at some point in your life you have seen someone walking around with a sooty mark on their foreheads. It is the day when Christians around the world begin their journey through the Lenten season of the church year. Lent is the 40 days (plus 6 Sundays) that lead up to Easter and is a time of humility, of remembering our humanity (and fallibility and mortality), and learning.
A couple of years ago I was at a public meeting after I had received ashes, and someone across the room from me kept trying to get my attention, then mouthing the words, you’ve got dirt on your face! Dirt! There! I smiled, and nodded, I know I mouthed back. I found myself looking at the face of a very perplexed man – head tilted, brow furrowed, huh? look. After the meeting was over, I explained the what and why of receiving ashes to him…I am not sure if he understood better, but I did…I better understood why I would carry on all day with the smear of soot on my forehead.
Sometimes being a Christian in public is a less than favourable thing. I have been afraid in my past to be associated with those other kinds of Christians. But this is actually the beauty of Ash Wednesday – it is a reminder that I am one of those Christians. Because I too am deeply flawed. When the priest or pastor takes the burnt ashes of last year’s leaves from Palm Sunday and marks the sign of the cross on my forehead, they say something like, “Remember that you come from dust, and to dust you shall return. Turn away from sin and embrace the good news of Jesus Christ.”
There are so many layers of humility in this for me:
I am mortal.
I am not God (so I can let go of control of things).
I am made of dust (this keeps my ego in check, but also reminds me that I am part of the interconnectedness of all things and made of the same beauty as the stars).
I screw up.
I am broken.
God never gives up on me.
God is in the process of returning me to wholeness.
I am loved.
What I am Grateful For
My work. I am so very blessed to do what I do: I get invite into the very best and the very worst of people’s lives. The best and worst days they experience, and they want me there. I also get to do the most mundane things, like organize Children’s Church supplies and cut up Communion bread – but I get to do them alongside some of the most amazing and beautiful people.
Today Rev. Ryan and I were able to offer “Ashes-To-Go” on the front steps of St. George’s in downtown Courtenay. We marked folks with ashes, reminding them of their mortality and urging them to turn away from that which is destructive and broken and turn towards the wholeness, beauty, and love that is God, known to us in Jesus. Some folks didn’t want or weren’t familiar with ashes, so we prayed with and blessed many people, reminding them of how loved they are.
I am filled with So. Much. Gratitude.
What Inspires Me
I love to read and write – I am in awe of the literary gymnasts that exist all around us, finding ways to help us understand life, God, ourselves, the world, in tremendous, new, and creative ways. I write to get better – inspired by these wonderful communicators to grow and learn as I go.
This morning I read a piece, a letter to a woman from God about Lent and I hope you will have a read and be inspired too. Not necessarily to write about your faith (though please do that!) but to reconsider old ideas you may have about this day and this season.
You can find that letter HERE and I would encourage you to read it, and then take some quiet time to consider what it means for you.
How I am Practicing My Faith
This Lent, I am ready to go deeper in my relationship with God.
Lent is often considered a pilgrimage back to God…a return to the source of love and light and life, and a turning away from that which harms us (including the harm we cause ourselves) and the ways in which we cause harm to others. Which sounds lovely and great – ideal really, but there is a process involved in that can be very difficult and challenging.
So, I will be doing two things: 1: to turn towards God, and 2: to face harms (sins if you will) that I have perpetuated.
1. Reading, researching, and hosting discussions on spiritual pilgrimage as well as leading a day of snowshoe pilgrimage at Strathcona Provincial Park.
Thursday March 21st 10 am & 7 pm Coffee and Conversations that Matter in Cumberland
An exploration of what pilgrimage is and has been through the centuries and in different
Cultures; a sharing of experiences of pilgrimage; and a preparatory session for how to do
Friday March 22nd 7 – 9:30 pm Red Tent Gathering
In the yurt at 1957 Arden Road (uphill, back of the property, pls carpool if possible)
I have been invited to open the discussion on spiritual pilgrimage through the sharing of
my own personal experiences with pilgrimage as well as the fruits of some of my
academic study into the interplay between ancient understandings of pilgrimage in the
Judeo-Christian and Indigenous traditions.
Red Tent evenings offer a space strictly for women, girls and those who identify as
women. This is an open group, with a slightly different mix of participants each event.
More details can be found here: https://comoxvalleyredtent.weebly.com/
Saturday March 30th 1:30 – 4 pm Snowshoe Pilgrimage
A chance to put all of this discussion into practice! We will meet at the Raven Lodge at
Mount Washington at 1:30 pm to get rentals (if needed) and begin our journey about
2pm. We will be travelling together and pausing regularly for reflection, but this is
primarily an individual journey of the soul across the land. Once we have returned to the
Lodge (about 4 pm), participants are welcome to head in their own directions, or join
together for discussion and reflection at Ted’s Bar & Grill.
To register please visit https://www.weirdchurchcumberland.com/news
2. In order to examine my own privilege, I am participating in an online book study via Facebook through The United Church of Canada using the book “White Privilege” by Robin Diangelo. I am ready to unearth some of the ways I am blind to my own story and the stories of others and allow God to change me for the better through humbling self-exploration and discussion with others.
Please visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/600558217062304/ if you want to participate (it’s not too late to join in).
If you have already read this book but are looking for something similar to read, check out Paulette Regan’s book “Unsettling the Settler Within”