Lent Word #28: Weep

Lent Day 35: ABIDE

abideABIDE? This is one of the words in today’s texts. It is an offer to shelter in the care of One who will provide and support. It is also the invitation to allow that One to take root in us, to find a home in us.

In a way, when we allow love to abide is us, we become walking, breathing places of holiness. Our bodies and heart and minds become temples: places where God lives.

At the same time, we are invited to seek and find sanctuary beyond ourselves, in connection with God, which often leads to connection to others. Abide … to rest, to dwell. To be: we’ve considered this way in past reflections.

It is a gentle invitation, in its way. And yet to create a home, or to find a home, isn’t so easy. Not for everyone.

Many of us are always moving: changing addresses, shifting locations where we spend most of our time at work, learning, play or living. And some people are exiles. Some folk are un-homed. We’ve reflected on wandering in the wilderness, or being lost or displaced. We’ve also discuss the implications of settling in the land.

In these texts, God promises to be our shelter, even when we’re on the journey to find home. And as we’ve already said, by connecting with God, we make a home in ourselves for God … so that loves goes with us, always.

Yet the call to ABIDE is a reminder to pause. To breathe. To pay attention. To turn inward for a time and be with oneself. Or to soak in the surroundings and let that be the resting place.

To ABIDE is to stay awhile in the presence of love, of God. To find respite.

For people always on the move, the invitation to ABIDE is once more a spiritual practice, a form of self-care that Lent offers. How do you create chances to pause? To ABIDE?

Perhaps just reading the sacred texts. Or standing in the presence of the beauty of nature (God’s creation). Perhaps praying. Or simply closing your eyes and taking a slow, intentional breath. Using some contemplative practice to find your center, where God awaits you.

Try this wonderful prayer as a way and a place to ABIDE:

handsBe still and know that I am God

Be still and know that I am

Be still and know

Be still

Be

Selections from today’s lectionary passages:

Judges 9: 15aAnd the bramble said to the trees, ‘If in good faith you are anointing me king over you, then come and take refuge in my shade.’

1 John 2: 24 — Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you will abide in the Son and in the Father.

Lent Day 21: ROOTS

Day21_rootsWe find the word ROOTS, or other images that echo it, in today’s texts. As I have mentioned in past postings, our sacred writings often compare human lives to trees and vines.

When we speak of roots, we are speaking of the context in which we are deeply situated, the history from which we have grown, and many facets of identity that shape us. These may include religious, social, economic, cultural, geographic, racial, linguistic, and gender-based elements, for instance.

Interestingly, we often become more firmly and healthfully rooted in our own traditions and identities when we come into contact with people and cultures different from our own. In this way, we grow and explore. As we lean out and rise up, reaching for something else, our roots go deeper, offering a counterbalance to our maturing movements up and away.

Roots seek out the essential ingredients of life even before the shoots appear. They are a sign of strength and vitality. Yet they are tender and need their own home, their own share of soil, in order to thrive.

God offers to be our home, the place where we plant ourselves and go deep, even as we reach out for God’s self with branches and fruit. This infinite, boundless love that expects much of us, but meets us where we are, is essential to our wellbeing. All the journeys we take, all the ways we stretch and grow, start and finish in the place where our roots find life.

Brief excerpts from lectionary passages:

  • Ezekiel 17:6 — It sprouted and became a vine spreading out, but low; its branches turned toward him, its remained where it stood.
  • Ezekiel 17:7 — And see! This vine stretched out its roots toward him; it shot out its branches toward him, so that he might water it.
  • Romans 2: 15 — They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, to which their own conscience also bears witness; and their conflicting thoughts will accuse or perhaps excuse them.

Lent Day 18: FRUIT

Today’s passages from the Bible talk about sustainable crops with terms such as yield, grapes, and fruit. Human life and human spirit are spoken about through metaphor.

From living trees and vines, we grow. Alternately, without care, we may wither or fall and rot. Interestingly, the Gospel passage also talks about our unique gifts and blessings. Each tree bears its own type of fruit.

black-and-white-grapes-sally-bauerThe kingdom of God is compared to a vineyard, and we’re reminded about the tenderness with which it is domesticated and cultivated. It is surrounded by hedges, fed and watered, pruned and watched. Each of us, a vine or tree in this field or orchard, becomes the ‘pleasant planting’ of God’s love, commitment, and grace.

Without such vigilant care, we are trampled and devoured, and we do not yield a harvest that changes the world.

Seasons pass in anticipation of what will bud and grow. Yet sometimes the one who planted us is surprised by the harvest.

Of course, God may promise such care, but we are also the hands and feet, hearts and mind of God in the world. Whereas Christ may be the leading gardener, isn’t it wonderful to imagine ourselves as the gardeners of our communities and our lives? We are invited to tend and nurture ourselves, each other, and this world.

What fruit do you bear? What presence do you offer, rooted in God’s kingdom, right here on earth? What surprises do you offer to God and this world?

And what aspects of yourself and your life require additional tending, in the form of  self-compassion, self-care or perhaps self-discipline?

Excerpts from today’s lectionary:

  • Isaiah 5: 4 — When I expected it to yield grapes, why did it yield wild grapes?
  • Isaiah 5: 7 —
    For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts
    is the house of Israel,
    and the people of Judah
    are his pleasant planting;
    he expected justice,
    but saw bloodshed;
    righteousness,
    but heard a cry!
  • Luke 63: 43-44 — No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; 44 for each tree is known by its own fruit.