by David Henson
Don’t forget to feast this Lent.
In the midst of the almsgiving, praying and fasting that traditionally mark this season, remember also to feast.
But only on Sundays.
For Christians, every Sunday is a feast day, and fasting is forbidden at a feast. And, it would be downright rude — to the host, to others at the feast, and to yourself — to fast in the midst of a feast.
Of course, feasting isn’t the first thought that comes to mind in Lent, especially in the popular imagination. But, in many ways, it is the most important part. Some Christians tend to think of Lent only in terms of deprivation, discipline and rigorous religiosity.
Others might malign it as encouraging a kind of mind-body dualism in which the body is battered into submission or the spirit edified at the expense of the repression of the body. Others have criticized Lent, explaining they don’t need the Church to dictate a special season for them to draw close to God.
These criticisms tend to forget about that one critical element: the Lenten feast.
Now, before anyone protests, the feasts of Lent are certainly on the more somber side of things, with all the minor chords and buried Alleluias. But the Sundays during Lent are still celebrations. The Eucharist is never a dirge. It is always a celebration and not just of God’s love and of Jesus’ life. It is also a celebration of our participation in that divine mystery. It is an invitation to a party in which we can touch the hem of divinity — and sometimes more. It is an embodied celebration and a celebration of bodies, particularly God’s own body.
by Rand Walker
Turkeys are considered the essence of ineptness and stupidity. Perhaps they are categorized unfairly, but nonetheless, the word “turkey” carries negative connotations when it refers to certain people or undesirable events in our lives. Sometimes, we invite turkeys into our lives; other times, they show up unannounced or are driven into our space by something or someone else. This is a true anecdote about such as incident in my life a few weeks ago.
Some background is needed to set the scene. I live in a rural area that seems like a wildlife reserve at times. It is not unusual to see deer by the dozens grazing in the front yard or to hear hawks screaming overhead because they are being dive-bombed and aggravated by crows, or they are circling slowly, hunting for prey. Coyotes howling at night are a normal occurrence, but they have been heard howling before sunset, their otherworldly yelps and chortles growing closer together as two of them locate each other. Hence, turkeys wandering through the yard or in the woods just feet from my house are considered normal and part of the territory.
A nearby neighbor has a dog named, Joe. He is a German Shepherd/Border Collie mix who wandered up when he was a puppy more than five years ago. His pleasant, friendly nature endears him to us, so we feed him at my house, and he stops by on his rounds to visit. One peculiar thing about Joe is that he is very reluctant to enter the house, even the sunroom. Why this is important will become clear, later.
There is an 18’ by 12’ sunroom attached to the rear of my house with glass doors and panels around three sides. The doors can be opened and the screens slid into place. It was a sunny, quiet mid-spring Sunday evening, and two of the sunroom doors were opened with the screens in place. I have a cat, Missy, who is very skittish, and she was curled up on the loveseat in the sunroom, napping like most cats do during the day. I was in my recliner in the living room, reading a book. The door between the sunroom and the kitchen was open. Basking in the quiet and the solitude, I was engrossed in my book when suddenly, I heard a loud sound that had the qualities of both a thud and a crash, followed by the cat’s claws scratching for traction as she hastily made her exit from the sunroom, down the corridor to the basement steps, and into the basement. My first thought was, What the hell has that cat knocked over? She likes to climb, and there is a bar-height table in the corner of the room along with a couple of lamps and plant stands scattered around the room. I laid my book to the side and rose from the recliner, reluctantly, and walked through the kitchen toward the open door to the sunroom. I was not prepared for what I saw.
by Randy Walker
If you think your way is the only way, you might be “stuck in the details.” If you belittle those who do not look like you, act like you, or think like you, you might be “stuck in the details.” If dogma rules your life, you might be “stuck in the details.”
First, what is meant by the idiom, “stuck in the details”? Has anyone encountered someone who is obsessive-compulsive over certain things in his or her life? This person becomes consumed with a minute detail, or details, that have little impact on the person’s quality of life, and in doing so, misses the “big picture,” or the things that do matter and affect the quality of life or the outcome of something in particular. I once worked for someone who displayed this quirk to the extreme. He and I worked in construction. This man would obsess over visible brush strokes left on a painted surface, imperfections in trim molding, or other minor blemishes to the point that he would miss obvious things, such as a missing storm door, blatant damage to an outside wall or other similar but what should be easily detected flaws. In other words, he was “stuck in the details,” and he missed the “big picture.”
I believe it is easy for many people to do, essentially, the same thing when it comes to religion or worldviews. To me, religious dogma is an example of details, and people tend to focus on dogmatic “details” and miss the more crucial “big picture.” Stated another way: the doctrine and the rules included in the dogma become more important to some people than how they view and treat people they encounter. They will argue, vehemently, about a minute point of doctrine and proclaim that if other people do not believe just as they do, such people are inferior, hell-bound, unfit, outcast, ex-communicated... the list goes on.
by Peggy Beatty
In the movie, The Matrix, Neo can take a blue pill that allows him to live every day in bliss, but the trade off is that he gives up his autonomy and control to an unknown force that renders him a mindless slave - happy, but mindless. Or he can take the red pill which will afford him to learn the truth about himself. He will understand the forces that control him and learn to gain freedom from them, but at a steep price. The road will be hard; he will enter into dark places of His weakness: shame, guilt, neediness, greed, jealousy, fear. But he will learn to sculpt away these castings, these disguises of the true divine Self and realize that they must be held in paradoxical tension with all that is good and pure and true. The journey will reveal the truth and the truth will guide the journey. He will discover the essence of who he is. He will become his most authentic self. Happiness will look more like self-acceptance and deep joy, and Neo will be the Hero of his own life. This is how a book I am reading, called The Steps of Essence, by Hanns-Oskar Porr, describes the first call to becoming who you truly are: the choice of pills, blue or red.
I was intrigued with this because I think I missed this point in the movie. Or maybe not – it has been awhile since I saw The Matrix, but I am familiar with the choices that the pills afford. So, the first step is to say, “ok I am willing to take the hard road.” But here’s the catch, everyday you get the pill choice again: Will you choose to wait for happiness to present itself to you, to be a victim of life, a sort of bystander to your own existence? Or will you choose to to be the Hero of your life, to confront your fear, put aside some of those things you think you "need," and ride the wonderful experience of your true Self? The choice to hold the tension between what should and should not be is the demand of truly living YOUR [authentic] life.