Lent in everyday language is written off of the pages of my own story where I play the leading role of wife, mother, author, and sometimes-scholar of spiritual formation/soul care and prayer. For each day of Lent, I am committing to fast from my typical outward communication and practice the daily examen. Simply put, the examen is a centuries old practice that helps us notice where God is working in our everyday-ordinary-activity filled lives.
If you have even a small desire to join in this 40-day journey, please know that you do not have to get up in the dark or commit hours and hours of time. Perhaps in this season of Lent where we might be tempted to give up eating sugar ((again)) or not participate in Lent at all ((again)).. perhaps we can make a change in the way we commonly spend 30 minutes or more of our day and simply ask ourselves two questions about our day.
That’s it. Two questions.
Give up some time spent on distracting activities for 40 days. Read through some reflective questions. Respond here (if you dare 🙂 ) or in a journal or on your own blog. And the hope for all of us is that we will learn together how to recognize what things in life are life giving and what things in our lives are more likely to bring us despair and fragmentation. Hint: If you are doing the examen in the morning hours, you may want to reflect on the day that has just passed. If you are doing these exercises in the evening, you would review the events of the day you are in. Just saying.
In preparation for Day One, here are your two questions
“We do not think ourselves into new ways of living, we live ourselves into new ways of thinking.”
― Richard Rohr
I so appreciate just about everything that Richard Rohr has to say. He is a man that is not only a prolific writer and thinker (which is inspiring) but he is a man who has pursued simplicity and integration as ways to make his faith more real (which is even more inspiring). I’d like to think that is my aim as well.
So in this season of Eastertide (the days beginning Resurrection day until Pentecost) (a season I have never observed in any formal way) I purpose myself into a new way of “thinking by living”. For the next 50 days I will attempt to read through the liturgy of the hours. For those unfamiliar with this practice, I promise to share more as I go. Simply put, it is a practice of praying on the hour about every three hours throughout the day with some specific guidelines to help anchor your time. The best way I have heard liturgy of the hours described is by Phyllis Tickle who writes
“The daily offices are like small chapels or wayside stations within the days courses” (The Divine Hours/Pocket Edition).
In recent years I have fallen in love with the practices of churches that have pentecostal theology. Somehow in my formative faith, I missed the emphasis of the Holy Spirit and it’s power for transformation in much of my life as a Christian. Just a few years ago, I was fortunate to have a time span of two years where I was weekly attending church services where the gifts of the Holy Spirit were part of the teaching. Concurrently I was engaged in a Masters in Spiritual Formation program that included several courses and experiences that reconnected for me the link between healing and Christian spirituality. It was as if God woke me up into the reality that the Holy Spirit was more than a fuzzy feeling, but a Person coming to bring me the fullness of the Kingdom Jesus kept talking about to me in Scriptures.
Why do I bring this up here?
Eastertide, which begins on Easter Sunday, is the 40 day journey between Jesus resurrection and His ascension and then 10 days later, the Holy Spirit arrives. (Easter+40=ascension. Easter+50=Holy Spirit arrives).
When I think back to my own Christian life, most of it could be summarized as an Eastertide Christian. I had a deep relationship with Jesus and was well acquainted with God through His Word, but I had not ever really recognized or received the Holy Spirit as a person to have a relationship with. As long as Jesus was in the picture, the Holy Spirit could remain an ambiguous force . But an encounter with the Holy Spirit changed that for me. And that is something I wish to commemorate by acknowledging that as real as the historical appearance of the Holy Spirit was at Pentecost, I have had my own pentecostal experience. So in this season, another one of expectation and mystery, I lean in through a new spiritual path of regular intervals to pause and pray and watch for the movement of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
So perhaps in this season of Easter, you can be expectant about the ways in which the Living Jesus will encounter you? Perhaps there is a way to pray or notice Jesus that you would like to observe for this period of time?
Perhaps you would like to share some of those ideas and observations here?