Dream Trees

There is a Place
where the Trees dream.
If you go there
with Your Secrets.

All will be Laid Bare
among the Branches
there Nothing can Hide
the Forest is Truth
do Not be Afraid!

The Trees are Life
The Trees are Gentle
They’ll take Your Heart
And Return it Whole.

You’ll wish to Die there
You Will Live there
Even when You leave
You’ll be There still.

ivan-torres-376149

Photo by ivan Torres on Unsplash

 

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Day After Solstice

sunrisekazuend

Day after Solstice

We take it on faith that the days are getting longer
though the nights seem as dark and the air seems as cold

We choose to believe that the light’s getting stronger
although all it sounds like a quaint fairytale of old.

We do not sigh or yearn for the simple old times
though it is always tempting to polish up the past

We instead choose to live, to embrace the darkling day
though our faith needs sharpening and our kindness won’t last

We know that this darkness brings some tests of courage
through the cold we prevail though our hearts are undone

We put our feet to the path, wave farewell to the summer
though this journey is ended, a new one has begun.

All Saints Day

hands

Some of the saints in my life don’t look very saintly
examined under the lens of churchly piety

But I tell you that with their words and deeds
with their loving hearts and helping hands

They have shown me more of God than any prayer book
and given me more Grace than any hymn.

~~~~~~~~*~~~~~~~

Algunos de los santos de mi vida no son muy piadoso
Mirado con la piedad ordinaria

Pero les digo que con sus palabras y hechos
Con sus corazones amorosos y ayudando a las manos

A mí se ha revelado a Dios más que cualquier en los libros de oraciones
Y para mí se ha dado más gracia que cualquier himno.

(Please forgive my beginner’s Spanish!/Lo siento por mi principiante español)

My Relationship with Lent

Lent

Lent (Photo credit: Our Lady of Disgrace)

Although I have participated in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox faiths along with a brief visit to Protestantism, I now follow my own religious path.  I’ve been keeping Lent regardless of my religious affiliation (or lack thereof) my entire life. Lent is a powerful season for me, with a lot of deep, personal meaning.   I have no desire to convert anyone.  I invite you to celebrate Lent with me, whatever Lent might mean to you. You are welcome here, whatever your religious affiliation or lack thereof. If you’ve never celebrated Lent, this might be an opportunity to give it a try.

Because our religious conversations online tend to be combative and unhelpful, I ask you to be especially kind and generous and careful with each other in any comments you might make to this post. Proselytizers will be banned or sold to alien space-slavers, depending on how cranky I feel on the day I read them.

Lent, or why we celebrate somebody else’s holiday

Every year for the Christian holiday of Lent, that period of 40 days of fasting and contemplation that comes before Easter, my family goes vegetarian. Last year we ate vegan except on the weekends. This year we're going with the ovo-lacto with fish on the weekends version of vegetarianism because of our fourteen year old son. With the help of teen growth spurt, He's gone from pudgy to "help me, the pants that were tight yesterday are falling off today". He's convinced that he'll starve if we go vegan and I'm convinced that I'll go insane trying to figure out how to convince him that he won't.

A friend asked me why we celebrate Lent when we're not Christians. Even A lot of Christians eschew Lent these days, considering it to be too grim and penitential for modern Christianity. It's a part of my personal spiritual heritage and it's one with a lot of positive energy for me. It is true that we could do something like Lent at some completely different time of year as so not to confuse people. The thing is, if you live in a part of the world where there is a large Catholic, Orthodox or other population that does Lent, there is a built-in support system all around you at this time of year. It's easy to do Lent at Lent. Why re-invent the wheel? Here, even Bill Miller's, that Texas temple of Barbecue, has a WE HAVE FISH! sign at this time of year. Don't ask for fish at Bill Miller's in July, folks, because you aren't getting any.

Lent doesn't have to be all about "giving things up", though I admit that my kids still view Lent as the "giving up meat" time instead of the "experiencing a different way of eating" time. We try to keep the focus on "different" instead of deprivation. We try vegetable dishes we've never made before. We look for fruits and veggies that we don't commonly eat. Lenten eating is the reason we all like plantains now. Tomatillos didn't go as well, but we might try them again prepared differently.

What do I get out of Lent other than an opportunity to get my family to try new things? It's a great way for us to schedule some contemplative time into our yearly holiday cycle. A lot of people do a little first of the year planning and goal-making and New Year's resolution making. Lent offers a ready made space of time to do that in our spiritual life. It's a great time to think about one's relationship to one's faith and how one expresses that in this world. One of the most important concepts in my spiritual life is the idea of "right relationship". Because I'm very interested in environmental causes and because I believe in the sacredness of all Creation(and also creation, for the metaphysicists among us;-)), Lent is a time for me to consider how I live and what impact that has in the world, physically and spiritually. It's time for me to consider my "right relationship" with the world, or Gaia, if you prefer.

So that's our Lent. Not my godmother's Lent, but it works for me.

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Another Kind of Emergent Church

In the Archdiocese of Boston, an interesting rebellion is going on.  The Archdiocese decided to close some churches, and the parishoners not only objected, but have staged vigils (sit ins) to prevent the properties from being sold.  One church, St. Frances, has been on vigil for 1,533 days.  The various reasons for the parish closings are complex, everything from priest shortages to wanting to cash in on prime real estate, but this particular parish is having none of it. 

St. Frances, that guy from the Middle Ages, would approve, I think. Although he's commonly portrayed now as a harmless eccentric who loved animals and nature, he was a thorn in the side of the Catholic Church of his time.  He raised funds and campaigned to restore disused churches.  He openly criticized the church's acquisition of wealth. And he was very much about building common community.

The members of the Boston St. Frances community are reaping a peculiar gift from their rebellion.  That sense of common community has grown in them as they've been united in this goal of saving their home parish.  And they have learned that they can minister to each other.   They've learned that they have spiritual power as individuals who can serve each other's needs. A quote from the New York Times online article that I link to above:

Many of the St. Frances holdouts describe being transformed from passive Catholics to passionate, deeply involved members of a spiritual community that they say could be a model for the future of the troubled Catholic Church. 

This is not the model of evangelical "emergent church" that is so popular these days. The popular emergent church model seems to be based on hostile evangelism, in which adherents are united not in ministering to each other's needs but in battling what they perceive as the evils of the world and smiting the evildoers around them.

Perhaps the passionate engaged community will only last as long as the vigil.  It could be a temporary phenomenon, similar to the commraderie shared by strangers on long bus trips.  I hope that the parishioners of St. Frances keep this lesson of spiritual empowerment and use it to better their little corner of the world even after they win or lose their struggle to keep their parish.  I hope that whatever happens with the parish, they will emerge  as spiritually stronger,  empowered individuals and community.  That's the gift they're giving each other in the vigil.

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