Ponderings – March 2023

Ponderings! A message from Rev Gloria

On Wednesday, February 22nd, we entered the season of Lent. In the history of the church, Lent was often a dark and sad season where sacrifice was the focus of heightening our relationship with God. In order to improve our relationship with God, the Church administered strict dietary rules and congregants were required to sacrifice something in their life: chocolate, entertainment, and numerous other items. It was also a historic belief, that salvation was obtained through abandoning joy and beauty in this earthly life and we should only tolerate this earthly life in order to reach heaven.

Our relationship with God is serious business but the same life that was avoided is the life and relationships that God created for us on this earth. So, can our focus on deepening our relationship take a
new turn and achieve for us even more growth than we could ever expect?

Aging can bring an awareness of many new insights, whether it is bodies that once hurt in places they never hurt before or wisdom which comes from knowledge and experience. Aging also reminds us how fragile life is and that the days of our life are limited as we attend more funerals. We hear of friends, family and even ourselves receive a life threatening diagnosis. The words: “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return” are a little more meaningful or even frightening every year.

Six years ago, Christine Valters Painter wrote: “Death of any kind is rarely a welcome experience. Even when we witness the mysteries of nature year after year reveal the glories of springtime which emerge
from winter’s fallow landscape. We resist death, we try to numb ourselves from life’s inevitable stripping away of our “secure” frameworks. We spend so much energy and money on staying young. But when we turn to face death wide-eyed and fully present, when we feel the fullness of the grief it brings, we also slowly begin to discover the new life awaiting us.”

Lent should recognize the fragility of life but deepening the life we are capable of having in the presence of God. Maybe our focus this Lent should be a time of pausing, opening our eyes and ears and
discovering as Jacob did in Genesis; “Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!”. We can then enter the celebration of Easter with new life and knowing that God is in this place and I know it. The
journey of Lent will require intentional actions on our part if we want to experience a new or richer life through spiritual growth.

Spiritual growth is usually the result of participating in meaningful activities undertaken on a regular basis. There are numerous spiritual practices that can lead an individual into the presence of God and the beauty of this life within God’s presence here on earth. Each of us will need to determine what activities or actions produce the results we are seeking. Yet, we often ask, “What are the various spiritual practices available?”

Some of the traditional spiritual practices known to Christians include fasting, frugality, giving of self or finances, reading of scripture, meditation, prayer and reflection, service, simplicity, and worship. New forms of spiritual practices include affirmations, walking a labyrinth, art. Physical meditation such as yoga or Tai Chi, reading of Lent devotionals, breathe work, spiritually oriented conversations, dancing, centering prayer, mindfulness practices, celebrations of life and relationships (before a death occurs) with
friends and family and nature walks. There are many more that could be listed but the primary point is to intentional participate in one or more activities that brings you in touch with your blessings, believes,
attitudes, and spirit.

May God guide you on this Lenten journey.

Blessings, Rev. Gloria