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Mar 7, 2014 - Uncategorized    3 Comments

Lent 2014 (Day 3): Sr. Elizabeth Johnson

Sr. Elizabeth Johnson

Sr. Elizabeth Johnson

Dear Pope Francis,

Lent is a time of reflection and contemplation focused on where we are in our lives and whether we are in right relationship with the Divine.

I can think of no better model for this than feminist theologian Sr. Elizabeth Johnson. She’s written several books, most recently¬†Ask the Beasts: Darwin and the God of Love. She is probably most known for Quest for the Living God, which earned popular and academic acclaim, but annoyed a few bishops. (In my mind that makes it an even more important read.)

Buzzfeed, which is an online “news” site known more for sensational headlines that drive traffic, has published a really good interview with Sr. Johnson. I’d suggest making it your lectio divina choice for the day.

Your friend,

Kevin

(P.S. those book links go to Amazon and if you make a purchase I get a little money to keep the tapers burning around here.)

Mar 6, 2014 - Uncategorized    2 Comments

Lent 2014 (Day 2): Giving up what’s weighing me down

Oil cans

Photo credit: http://morguefile.com/creative/krosseel

Dear Pope Francis,

Though Lent officially started yesterday, it feels like today is the real start of the Lenten season. Now is when we start to really focus in on our sins, our transgressions, the really awful stuff that we do that we need to get rid of, and just generally how awful we are.

Wait. What?

Yeah, I’m going with a bit of a different approach to Lent this year. As I wrote yesterday about Earth Wednesday, I see Lent as a time for reflection, yes, but maybe not a time to beat myself up. Instead, I’m going to focus on giving things up that might be weighing me down.

I know that I have habits and ways of seeing the world and my place in it that aren’t supportive. Sometimes they can get in the way of things. The image that springs to mind, for me, is the Tinman from the Wizard of Oz. When he meets Dorothy, he can’t even speak because he’s stood out in the rain and rusted shut. Only when Dorothy oils his joints is he free to speak and move and join the journey down the Yellow Brick Road.

I see Lent as a time to explore where my spiritual joints have gone rusty. Attending to those and maybe making some changes, or adding new habits, is like applying a spiritual oil can. It loosens things up again so I can be present in my day-to-day life in a new way, and continue on my journey a bit lighter and with a spring in my step.

As Lent approached this year, I got to thinking about some practices I wanted to incorporate and maybe some things I wanted to let go of over the next 40 days. The key here is that I’m not going to weigh myself down again with different obligations. That’s something I can easily do. For example, I thought I might get up an extra hour early so I could do the Daily Office and reflect on that day’s readings. Then I realized I already get up quite early to do the work I do, so that probably would not be supportive. I find I need to be truthful with myself about what will be supportive for me, and not some ideal that won’t serve me at all.

So, here’s what I’ve decided on for Lent 2014:

– At some point in the day, I will take some time out for contemplation. I’m always looking for ways to bring more silence to my daily life. I might read and reflect on that day’s readings, or I might meditate.

– I’m going to cut back a bit on my social media use. I won’t be eliminating it altogether, but I will be a bit more intentional about it.

– I’d like to post every day to this blog. I haven’t always kept up with my tagline. That’s OK. Things happen. But, for Lent, I’d like to post daily.

– I’d like to be more intentional around the food I consume. So, for Lent, I’m not going to eat out, unless I’m sharing a meal with friends. That way it’s both a giving up and an adding to. I’ve been sick off and on since Christmas, culminating in a rather nasty bout of pneumonia, and I’ve got a bit of cabin fever and a feeling of disconnection from my friends. (Hint to my friends: I am free for dinner in Lent!).

So, there they are, three things I’m going to attend to during Lent as a way of letting go of what might be weighing me down.

I will report on how this goes (I’m writing every day…I’ll need material).

Feel free to share in the comments what supportive things you’re doing during Lent to lift any burdens you might be unnecessarily carrying.

Your friend,

Kevin

Mar 5, 2014 - Uncategorized    2 Comments

Lent 2014 (Day 1): Earth Wednesday

Earth from space

Earth from space. Photo credit: http://morguefile.com/creative/pschubert

Dear Pope Francis,

I should probably disclose that the title of this post, Earth Wednesday, is not something I came up with. Alexandra Kovats, who is far wiser than I can probably ever hope to be, shared it with me during a recent conversation. She said that she refers to Ash Wednesday as Earth Wednesday, and I immediately latched onto the concept, for it is truly inspired.

I’ve been puzzling it over ever since we spoke. Ash Wednesday has such a ponderous and rather depressing reputation. The ashes on our foreheads, we’re told, serve to remind us that we come from ashes and dust, and to ashes and dust we shall, one day, return. Cheery, isn’t it? So motivating and inspiring. Let’s all think on our eventual incineration.

Earth Wednesday, though, now that is something that speaks to me in a powerful way. We all come from Earth, and to Earth we shall one day return. It’s the came concept as ashes, but there’s a reminder there of the bounty of Earth that we share in between our birth and death. Life is hard and painful, and suffering is something we all experience. We also experience sunshine, warm breezes, and waking up each day to the gift of life. This is what evoking Earth Wednesday brings up for me: the balance and hope present in life. Isn’t that what the Resurrection is all about?

There is more to Earth Wednesday, at least for me. It serves as a reminder that I am part of the greater Earth community, and that I live side by side with the other-than-human occupants of our planet. I exist in tandem with all of Earth’s inhabitants, as their equal in Creation. This is something that is so easy to forget, particularly when we spend our days in front of computer screens, driving cars, and going in and out of climate-controlled buildings. For the most part, except in extreme events, even bad weather is just something we endure when we have to go outside, not a true force in our lives. (Though this is shifting, I think, as climate change makes its reality felt more and more.) Trees and flowers are nice to look at, but we consider them ornamental and subject to our own whims. When we need their habitat for something, we just pull them out. The same goes for animals and insects: we eat some for food, swat away others, poison still more, and destroy where the rest live. We have become so settled in our way of thinking that the rest of the Earth community is just one large untapped resource.

I need the reminder of Earth Wednesday so I realize, once again, that I’m not only mortal, but also just a small part of creation. I’m given the gift of perspective and a chance to reconsider how I exist in the world.

When I receive my ashes today I will be thinking “I come from Earth. I am Earth. I will go back to the Earth.” For me, I think this is a good way to begin the Lenten season.

What about you? What do you think about when receiving your ashes, or on Earth Wednesday?

Your friend,

Kevin

Jan 6, 2014 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Nothing like a new pair of (Papal) socks

Cardinal red Papal socks.

Dear Pope Francis,

Apparently today is Blue Monday, or the most depressing day of the year. I don’t now how this is determined, but I suppose forewarned is forearmed.

Nothing cheers me up more than a nice pair of new socks. So, I was thrilled to come across a site where you can buy, well, your Papal socks! I think I will order a pair in Cardinal red and Bishop purple.

Take that, Blue Monday!

Your friend,

Kevin

 

Dec 13, 2013 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Video for Jim Conlon’s “Sacred Butterflies”

Dear Pope Francis,

I didn’t realize that I never posted a link to the video that Jim Conlon produced to go along with his book “Sacred Butterflies”. It’s a great piece, and does a lot to illustrate what the book is about. It also has a few of my classmates from the Sophia program.

If that player doesn’t work for you, go here.

Your friend,

Kevin

Dec 12, 2013 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Some Jim Conlon reading and listening

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Dear Pope Francis,

There are a couple new things to check out from Jim Conlon.

First, the webcast related to Jim’s new book “Sacred Butterfliess” that¬†I wrote about a month or so ago was recorded and can be found here. (Note, the first 60 seconds of the recording is silence.)

Second, Jim was interviewed by Spiritual Media Blog and the Q&A has now published.

Enjoy!

Your friend,

Kevin

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