LENT@2013: Let’s Embrace Non-violence Together
Finding our way to a “A New Normal”
While many people look at the Lenten season as a time to “give up something” or to be somber, I view it differently. I welcome the yearly church cycle for as Lent rolls around each year it provides me an opportunity to have my annual spiritual check up. In order to maintain our health, it is recommended that each of us have an annual physical exam – and I propose it is no different for our spiritual health. We need an annual check up or at least a “check-in.” Lent encourages me to take the time and space to lovingly examine my own spiritual well being. I ask myself things like: What habits have I slipped into that keep me from connecting with spirit? What relationships have I neglected that I need to honor? What things am I allowing to have power over me that prevent me from being fully alive? Where have I lost my way, blurred my vision, or by sheer inertia, dimmed my light in the world? Is my life in alignment with my most deeply held values? Am I whole, spiritually healthy, in touch with my joy and passion?
I have often found it helpful to commit to concrete actions or practices that provide awareness and space to answer some of the questions above concerning my spiritual health. I invite you to journey this Lenten season by adopting a practice/s that will open new possibilities for your own spiritual growth and well being. Here are a few suggestions for you to consider or simply to read in order to spark your own ideas.
- Observe a consumer free Lent. Commit to buying only what you need and nothing extra that you many want.
- Observe an alcohol free Lent. Releasing any habits of alcohol that do not serve you and committing to being fully present each day. When you want a glass of wine, say a prayer instead.
- Eat less meat. Reduce your ecological footprint. Try being vegetarian for Lent, or partially vegetarian.
- Intentionally practice kindness. Join the mid high and senior high as they practice 26 acts of kindness in memory of the Sandy Hook children and teachers.
- Commit to practicing non-violence in your speech. Be aware of any words or thoughts that do not promote peace.
- Spend 10 minutes a day in stillness, in silence.
- Read a devotional (in print or online) each day to help center you.
- Take a concrete action on something you are passionate about. Join many at CCSM who are taking action on reducing gun violence.
- Offer a buy back program for your children for any toys/electronic games that feature guns or weapons, or have to do with violence in the real world; rid your shelves of violent movies and books
- Set aside one evening meal a week where as a family (or friends or the people you share a meal with) you talk about something important and meaningful about how to be kinder, more peaceful, more loving.
- Focus on forgiveness and choose one person who you will actively seek to forgive by writing a letter, sending an email, making a phone call (even if the person is deceased you can write a letter and read it aloud)
- For every dollar you spend each week, keep track and give 10% of it away at end of the week to a local community or a family in need.
- Unclutter your life—a room at a time, get rid of “stuff” that you do not use or do not need. Take it to Good Will, Samaritan House or any charitable organization and let others enjoy it.
- Commit to a weekly walk in nature or in a park where you intentionally appreciate the surrounding beauty and breathe in that beauty for your spirit.
- Write your own version of the Lord’s prayer (guidelines below), post it and play daily during Lent.
To write the Lord’s prayer in your own words you can use these guidelines to get started: Ask yourself the question, meditate on it, then experiment with one or two sentences. It will help you keep the structure of the Lord’s prayer and keep it brief enough so it is easy to pray daily.
- How do I name the sacred/divine/spirit?
- How do I want to “make space” (that is the meaning of hallow) for the divine?
- What are my daily needs?
- Where do I need forgiveness for myself and others? How do I make it real?
- From what do I need to be delivered?
- What is your vision (aligned with God’s vision) of how you want the world to be?
Here’s one I wrote with the theme of non-violence:
Holy presence within and around us, we recognize the sacredness of life;
with reverence we align ourselves with the highest good for all.
Sustain us today so that we may be the peace we seek.
Unbind us from the hurts we have inflicted and help us to unbind
those who have inflicted hurt on us.
Help us to walk a path of non-violence and deliver us from our impulse
for retaliation and revenge.
May equality and justice, harmony and love, uphold the dignity of each person and
enrich our life together on this earth. May it be so. Amen.
Rev. Dr. Penny Nixon
Congregational Church of San Mateo, UCC