Wednesday mornings I am on my way to 7 am meditation at the church I attend. Wednesday, February 14th I knew it was Ash Wednesday and thought I could escape the ashes on the forehead by going to the weekly contemplative service. However, after the welcoming, the worship leader turned it over to the minister who gives us a short reminder that this is the beginning of Lent and it is always good to remember that we are all going to die (someday). Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. I guess this is supposed to get us into a reflective mood.
I have a love – hate relationship with ritual. On the one hand it is boring, words and actions that we say or do that seem to lose their meaning over time and become empty gestures. On the other hand ritual surprises me and orders my life, leading me deeper into the place where God lives. I have always observed the church year. It gives a certain rhythm to my life and a way of celebrating birth, death and transformation as a pattern for life to evolve. Now the invitation is before me. Quickly my mind wonders if I am going to do this, and if I do, what does it mean to me.
I asked myself the question and start writing in my journal as 20 people begin moving toward the front.
This is what I wrote: “It is star-dust – ashes from the end of the singularity and the beginning of possibility. God/Energy no longer confined to a perfect static existence. In an explosion that is still going on, God is moving out in all directions into a generative, creative possibility…and the rest is history. The end of love that is selfish and needy; the beginning of love that is expressive and giving. The elements from this explosion became my life, and here I am today celebrating an ending that has given me a place in creation. The singularity (God?) did not end, it transformed. And now God cannot be perfect/complete without me, without every one of us.”
Lent now becomes forty days to remember and wonder who I am and how do I take my place in this movement in time. For this season my task is to practice living in communion with the love energy that created me, in which I am rooted, which is rooted in me, which I am most often ignoring as I wonder about the meaning of retirement.
In this same service, I am reminded of the Lord’s Prayer and the line “lead us not into temptation” stands out for me. Translated by Neil Douglas-Klotz, Prayers of the Cosmos, (from the Aramaic) as “do not let us be seduced by surface things”. Yes, take time to pray, wonder, reflect, go deep, let the Spirit inform, renew, energize you. This is the contemplative way. Why do I avoid it? Lent is my invitation to return again to my roots and not skim along on the surface of life. I will adopt a prayer from Ted Loder, Guerillas of Grace, p. 27, for lent:
Now, Oh Lord,
…………. calm me into a quietness
………………….. that heals and listens,
………….. and mould my longings and passions,
………….. my wounds and wonderings
…………………….. into a more holy
………………………………… and human shape.
Definition: Initial singularity, a hypothesized singularity of infinite density before quantum fluctuations caused the Big Bang and subsequent inflation that created the Universe.