Tag Archive - Truth

Make Radiant the Garment of My Soul…and Save Me

I behold Thy Bridal Chamber richly adorned, O my Savior.
But I have no wedding garment to worthily enter.
Make radiant the garment of Thy soul,
O Giver of Life and save me.

It is, for me, one of the loveliest, most poignant services of the whole church year. Bridegroom Matins. And the Church is kind enough to give it to us on three evenings of Holy Week. My story is all tangled up in here. And I sometimes feel like God and I are curled up in an armchair looking through an old photo album as He gently whispers, Remember…..

On the third evening we ponder the stories of Judas the traitor and the fallen woman.

I am the arrogant Judas, frustrated that God does not act as I think He should. Willing to take matters into my own hands. Faithless. Disloyal. Greedy. As much as I abhor his choice, it is a choice with which I am all too familiar.

I am also the fallen woman. Desperate. Without resource. Without hope. Standing outside the bridal chamber, filthy and unclothed. So broken that I would risk humiliation to pour myself out at the feet of One…the only One…who can save me.

Why is one saved and the other hopelessly lost?

When the sinful woman was offering her spice, the sinful disciple was making a bargain with the transgressors of the law. The one rejoiced in pouring out the spice so great in price, while the other hastened to sell the Priceless One. The one knew the Master, the other was separated from the Lord. She was freed and Judas became a slave to the enemy. Indifference is evil, but great is repentance

Ah for the wretchedness of Judas! For, seeing the adulteress kiss the traces of His feet, he was thinking with deceit of the kiss of betrayal. She loosed her braids, and he was bound with wrath, offering instead of spice, rotted evil; for envy knoweth not how to honor anything which is good

I belong here. In the Bridal Chamber. Not because I have done the right thing. Not because I have proved myself worthy. But because I have thrown myself upon His mercy. Because He has clothed me in His own righteousness, of His good pleasure.

Near the close of the service is sung the Troparion of Kassiani. She is my patron saint, and it is this hymn, in part, that wed my soul to hers. She has given most exquisite expression to the groaning of my soul.

A woman who had fallen into many sins
perceiving Thy Divinity, O Lord,
fulfilled the part of a myrrh-bearer,

And with lamentations
poured that sweet smelling oil of woe
on Thee before Thy burial;

Woe is me! she said.
For night surrounds me,
dark and moonless
and stings my lustful passions
with a love of sin.

Accept the fountain of my tears,
O Thou who drawest down from the clouds,
the waters of the seas

Incline to the groanings of my heart,
O Thou who in Thine ineffable self-emptying
hast bowed down the heavens.

I shall kiss Thy most pure feet
and wipe them with the hairs of my head;

Those feet whose sound Eve heard at dusk in Paradise
and hid herself for fear.

Who can search out the multitude of my sins,
and the abyss of Thy judgments,
O Savior of my soul?

Despise me not, Thine handmaiden,
for Thou hast mercy without measure.

“May He who is going to His voluntary passion for our salvation, Christ our true God…have mercy on us and save us forasmuch as He is good and loveth mankind.”

*All unattributed quotes from the Lenten Triodion, Bridegroom Matins service. Also, you can sample my favorite recording of the Hymn of Kassiani HERE.

Soul Stink

One of the unfortunate results of a cleansing fast is the stink. Exiting toxins imbue every bodily secretion–saliva, sweat, urine–with the putrid, rotten odor of death. Death leaving the body……

I am SO over Lent!

It is making me stink.

Or rather, maybe, it is making me aware of the stink–the putrid, rotten odor of death–that dwells in me. A few days ago I sat across a table from friends–one Protestant, one Anglican, one Orthodox–each of us keeping Lent in our own way. We talked about how weary we are of Lent. How weary we are of ourselves. Petty, tired, irritable, hungry.

Consider this: In the poignant book, Unbroken, I just read about Olympic runner turned WWII flyboy, Louis Zamperini, whose plane was downed over the Pacific. In the 45 days during which he was at sea (before being captured by the enemy), he only ate every 7 or 8 days or so, IF he could snag a bird or fish. At first I thought, “How could I be so ungrateful while eating fresh strawberries and mangoes?” And then………then it occurred to me that while he was eating rancid Albatross on a boat surrounded by sharks under the burning sun on the edge of starvation, “At least he didn’t have to watch other people eating bacon!”

See what I mean?

And that’s not nearly the worst of it.

Selfishness…

pettiness…

weakness…

Putrid.

Rotten.

Death.

But….

….the earth is beginning to rumble….

Yesterday was Lazarus Saturday. If there was ever a guy with a potential stink problem, Lazarus was that guy. And yet, Lazarus defied death. Even the odor of death. Not by his own power. It was a gift. From One who loved him enough to weep over him.

And today….

Today, that One comes riding on a donkey…a parade of victory that belies the agonizing road that awaits Him. And yet, He carries LIFE with Him. I will greet Him with hope. Because I need Him. As desperately as Lazarus needed Him. I am wallowing in death. I am covered in its stench. I need LIFE

Hosanna in the Highest!! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord!!

 

The Things I Can’t Fix…

I remember reading somewhere that a baby’s cry is designed to be specifically uncomfortable to its own mother. In a hospital nursery where several babies are crying at once, it’s YOUR baby’s cry that will cause your milk to let down. It’s YOUR toddler’s cry that will propel you across a playground to rescue your little one and kiss his broken skin.

What nobody told me was that this never changes. That when my teenager or my adult child cries over a broken heart or over circumstances that are trying in the extreme, I would still feel my body course with adrenaline, ready to annihilate the enemy and make everything right. But, long gone are the days when the milk of my body or my kisses are enough to fix my children’s problems.

It is a difficult thing to not be enough.

Not wise enough. Not powerful enough. Not even whole enough to avoid mixing my own insecurities and hurts in with theirs.

Thing is, they have a Father who IS enough. Wise enough. Powerful enough. Whole enough. So why do I work SO hard to fix things myself? Why do I lie awake for hours stewing over them, worrying…repeatedly rehearsing ways I have failed them…things I wish I had done differently?

I don’t trust Him.

Not always.

I know God has used the dark, desperate places in my life to rid me of delusion, to create a fertile place in me for grace, to bring me healing. If this is true, why would I take every painful experience from my children if I could?

I am learning to divert some of my worry time to prayer. I wish it were my first resort. It is not. Yet. I am choosing to open my heart to the possibility that God has good for my babies in the hurt they walk through. To dream of what that might look like. I am learning to whisper hope over them as I hold their sobbing bodies. To gently remind them that there is One who loves them even more than I. Who is relentless in bringing beauty from ashes.

Some days are better than others. This has been a week of other.

Lord I believe. Help my unbelief.

The Way of the Heart

“What is required of a man or a woman who is called to enter fully into the turmoil and agony of the times and speak a word of hope?”

Abba Arsenius was a well-educated, well-situated Roman in the court of Emperor Theodosius when he prayed this prayer, “Lord, lead me in the way of salvation.” It was the beginning of an odyssey. God would ultimately answer his prayer with these words. “Arsenius, flee, be silent, pray always…”

In his powerful book, The Way of the Heart, Henri Nouwen distills the essential wisdom of the desert fathers into these three things: Solitude (flee), Silence, and Prayer. When these become as natural to us as breathing, we will know the joy of continual communion with the Father and the words we speak will be life.

“Solitude is the place of the great struggle and the great encounter.”

I am defined by the people around me. I depend on them to tell me whether I am ok. Solitude rids me of this scaffolding. “…no friends to talk to, no telephone calls to make, no meetings to attend, no music to entertain, no books to distract, just me–naked, vulnerable, weak, sinful,deprived, broken–nothing.” It is a terrifying prospect. But as I carve out my own desert where I “dwell in the gentle healing presence of [my] Lord” the false self is extinguished and I am transformed.

Though it seems ironic, compassion is the fruit of solitude. As I face my own brokenness, I can enter with others into the places where they are weak, vulnerable, lonely, broken. When I stop using others as a yardstick to measure myself, I no longer need to judge them. “Compassion can never co-exist with judgment because judgment creates the distance, the distinction, which prevents us from really being with the other.”

“Silence is the discipline by which the inner fire of God is tended and kept alive.”

When the door of the steambath is continually left open, the heat inside rapidly escapes through it; likewise the soul, in its desire to say many things, dissipates its remembrance of God through the door of speech, even though everything it says may be good. ~Diadochus of Photiki

“Out of his eternal silence, God spoke the Word” Likewise our words “can only create communion and thus new life when they embody the silence from which they emerge…when the word calls forth the healing and restoring stillness of its own silence, few words are needed: much can be said without much being spoken.”

“Real prayer comes from the heart.”

To pray is to descend with the mind into the heart, and there to stand before the face of the Lord, ever-present, all-seeing, within you. ~Theophan the Recluse

Prayer is not meant to be an intellectual exercise in which we figure God out. Nor is it bargaining, manipulation, or an opportunity to impress God. Prayer of the heart is vulnerable, exposed, simple, and ceaseless. “When, for instance, we have spent twenty minutes in the early morning sitting in the presence of God with the words ‘The Lord is my Shepherd,’ they may slowly build a little nest for themselves in our heart and stay there for the rest of our busy day.”

“Ceaseless interior prayer is a continual yearning of the human spirit towards God.” ~from The Way of the Pilgrim

How I wish I could say to you that I have fully integrated this into my life. But perhaps being discomfited and knowing the longing are worthy first steps…

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Have mercy on me.

 

*Unattributed quotes in the post are by Henri Nouwan.

 

Thoughts That Breathe, Words That Burn

A poet’s work is to name the unnameable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world, and stop it going to sleep. ~Salman Rushdie

My mother fed me poetry as a little girl. I vividly recall the illustrations of The Sugarplum Tree, The Purple Cow, and The Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat. There were some she recited by heart. These were my favorites. Especially The Raggedy Man. I hear it even now in her voice. She opened a space in me for words that sing. Words with rhythm. Words that conjure vivid images. Words that capture longing.

As I have grown older, I have found poetry to be nourishing, healing, troubling, provocative, stimulating, and delightful in turns. Charles Baudelaire contended that a healthy man might go several days without food, but not without poetry. I rather think he might be right. In honor of National Poetry Month, I will be sharing, in the coming days, favorite poems. Today, I would like to introduce you to a few much beloved poetic voices. I invite you, yay verily I implore you, to share your favorites with me.

A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness. ~Robert Frost

I have only come to know the work of Mary Oliver over the past year. My, what a gift she has been to me! Her keen observations of the world around her and her fascination with all things living are a delight. And her raw explorations of the inner world have caused me to feel less alone…more understood.

Poetry… should strike the reader as a wording of his own highest thoughts, and appear almost a remembrance. ~John Keats

When I read the work of Rainer Maria Rilke, I sometimes feel like he has been inside my head, inside my heart. Unspoken anguishes, cries, longings in me find a voice in his words. Some have become prayer for me.

Poetry is the revelation of a feeling that the poet believes to be interior and personal which the reader recognizes as his own. ~Salvatore Quasimodo

Thomas Merton wrote a number of poems. But his was such a poetic soul that even his prose often sings like poetry. His chasing after God, his desire to be wholly devoted, and his frustration with his failings all resonate with me. It is my own story. He too is a lover of God’s glorious creation. His evocative descriptions carry me into the scene. I hear the drops of water, I feel the breeze, I smell the sea.

The poet doesn’t invent. He listens. ~Jean Cocteau

Billy Collins writes poems that are whimsical and engaging. He writes about the most ordinary things, but he looks at them askance. And I see them as if for the first time. And sometimes, just when I think I am simply having a rollicking good time, he plants a bit of truth inside me that I was not expecting.

Poetry is nearer to vital truth than history. ~Plato

The first Taylor Mali poem I encountered was a piece called “What Teachers Make”. It was enough. I became a devoted fan. Mali is a lover of language, and he wields it like a rapier. He will make you laugh. He might make you uncomfortable. He will definitely make you THINK. Mali is writing a poem a day for the month of April. You can read them here. You simply must visit his Youtube channel and allow him to deliver his poetry to you in his own voice. It is a remarkable experience.

A poet looks at the world the way a man looks at a woman. ~Wallace Stevens

For John Keats, beauty and truth are indistinguishable. His words pierce me with their loveliness and yearning, and make me glad of the wound. If you are also a lover of Keats, you might enjoy the artful film, Bright Star, which treats of his enigmatic relationship with Fanny Brawn.
A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language. ~W. H. Auden
The phrase “word play” takes on new meaning when you read the works of Shel Silverstein. My children and I have spent many delightful hours with his poetry. It is at once whimsical, ironic, and just when you least expect it, poignant. I especially commend to you The Giving Tree and Where the Sidewalk Ends.
Better than any argument is to rise at dawn and pick dew-wet red berries in a cup. ~Wendell Berry
Perhaps it is Wendell Berry‘s southern sensibilities that appeal to me. He sings of the agrarian culture I grew up in with much the same sense of wonder in which I perceived it myself. The images he conjures up might seem romanticized, unless you have known cool southern nights with dew on the grass or warm, freshly tilled earth. Then you know that no words will ever be romantic enough.
Poetry is thoughts that breathe and words that burn. ~Thomas Gray

Souvenirs…of Silence

Any retreat into solitude and silence has, for me, two parts. There is that extended quiet that gives way to deep, restoring breaths…to uninterrupted reflection. And there is the hope that some of the quiet will accompany me home; that I will remember to find silence where I am…in the midst. Here, a few of the meditations and moments that I carry with me…

Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

These are the words of the Jesus prayer. It has for centuries been an integral part of the prayer life of Christians seeking a way in. A way into stillness. A way into the unique mystery within themselves. It has for some time been part of my own prayer life. As I journeyed toward my oasis, I listened to a remarkable teaching on this prayer, on the invocation of the Name, by the venerable Metropolitan Kallistos Ware. He spoke of its two-fold use. In the midst of our daily lives, the prayer helps us to “find Christ everywhere”, to see all of life as sacramental. And, as part of our dedicated prayer time, it is one way to “create silence”. I have listened to it several times hence. It was a most worthy beginning.

Two of the three nights I was away, I fell asleep to a lullaby of raindrops against a tin roof. One of those nights there was a spectacular storm. I snuggled beneath the covers, watching flashes of lightening and feeling the reverberations of thunder with my whole body. In the morning, I awoke inside a cloud. A cocoon of sorts. A place of resting…and becoming.

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” ~Anais Nin

I paused in the center of this bridge for a very long time…spellbound by the movement of the water. Very nearly undisturbed in its flow, its gentle gurgle seemed to work itself inside me. More silent than an absence of sound. More still than an absence of movement. Oh, that I might sing silence into those around me as this stream sang it into me.

“Beauty is mysterious as well as terrible. God and devil are fighting there, and the battlefield is the heart of man.” ~Fyodor Dostoevzky

My friend, PJ, speaks of our shared ache for beauty. As I stumbled into a whole field of glorious Virginia Bluebells, ache was a most apt description. A glory almost too intense to be borne. A take your shoes off for you are breathing holiness kind of moment. A remnant, a memory of a world unseen, yet home. Wide awake. Delicious agony.

“He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme happiness. We must have felt what it is to die…that we may appreciate the joys of living.” ~Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo

It’s ok if you don’t get this photo. I’ll warrant you its beauty is unconventional. But I found it captivating. That is to say, I found the tree with its multifarious hangers-on captivating. Perhaps one of the most valuable things God has been showing me of late is that gifts do not always come in the forms I expect…or ask for. But if I am willing to open my hands…if I will humble myself and receive as He is pleased to give, He is faithful to show me the beauty He has designed for me. For my good. For the good of those I love. I believe, Lord. Help my unbelief.


I offer my profound thanks to Mary Claire and Nordeck for graciously opening to me their own particular piece of paradise. Your kind hospitality overwhelms me.

Thank you to my family for letting me go…for verily pushing me out the door.

And thank you, especially, to my extravagantly generous Father who is always, ALWAYS, waiting for me when I slow long enough, when I open my eyes wide enough, to see Him…from your sometimes unwieldy and recalcitrant daughter.

 

Just Show Up

I am not always the sharpest knife in the drawer. But when God gently sings the same idea into my life over and over…..and over…..even I can’t miss that.

In less than a week, from three different sources, on three different topics, one message:

Just show up.

First, my sweet friend Anne poured her heart onto the page on behalf of those walking through the heart-rending pain and loneliness of divorce. She said the most important thing we can do when those we love are walking though this…or any kind of pain for that matter…is to be there.

“Here’s the catch. When a relationship is ending, especially a marriage, it physically feels as if your soul has been ripped out of your body. People going through this change will likely not have the strength to reach out to you….Not only do we not want to bring people down with us, we don’t have the strength to engage with others. This is why it’s so important you reach out constantly to your friends.”

It is cowardly to allow my own inadequacies to keep me from loving others. Just because I don’t have any earth shattering wisdom to share doesn’t mean I have nothing to give to those I love who are hurting. They need me now more than ever.

Just show up.

On Sunday, the Orthodox Church honored the great theologian, Saint Gregory of Palamas. Our priest confessed to us how intense and somewhat intimidating he finds the works of this brilliant man who was so important to the Church. He then gave us what he lightheartedly titled “Orthodoxy for Dummies”. Point number one: Just show up. The Liturgical life is a gift to us. God will use it to heal us, to restore us, to make us who He always intended us to be. But we have to make ourselves available to this process.

Just show up.

I have been slowly making my way through Julia Cameron’s wonderful book, The Artist’s Way: Creativity as a Spiritual Practice.  This morning I was reading back through underlines and notes when I came to a section called “Rules for the Road”. Here is rule number one:

“In order to be an artist, I must show up at the page. Use the page to rest, to dream, to try.”

It is not necessary for me to know what I will write. I need not have everything worked out in my head. I know from my own experience that most of what goes on the page only reveals itself once words are already flowing from heart to fingers. But if I allow fear of the blank page to keep me from putting pen to paper in the first place, those words will never be released.

Just show up.

Three applications. One truth. It is not our wisdom, our effort, or our brilliance that is wanted. It is our presence. When we are available, the magic happens.

I have an idea this truth is not just for me. Where is your presence desperately wanted just now?

Delicious Agony

I wish I could tell you how much I miss the bells. The censer the priest uses has bells. So while I watch the vapors rise heavenward with our prayers, and while I breathe the fragrance of God, I hear the joyous sparkle of bells. But bells are incongruous with Lent. So they are gone, for now. My, how I miss them!

There is this lament.  The priest begins it all alone from behind the altar. He brings it out to us, along with that solemn, silent censer. The melody is so tragic it would break your heart even without the words. But the words, oh the words…

O Lord of hosts be with us for we have none other help, none other help in times of sorrow. O Lord of hosts, have mercy on us.

The weight of this moment is almost unbearable.

So, why can’t I stop singing this song?

I even asked for a copy of the music so I could get the melody just right. The thing is, it is not a dismal cry of despair to me. There is something very warm and right about it. This made no sense to me. Until last night…

Last night a sweet friend poured out her heart before me like water. She was in that desperate place of barely breathing….very nearly out of hope. She asked me how I had learned to live in a place of joy, how my awareness of the sacred had become so keen. Mine is a story of extravagant grace. A grace that is willing to rend, so it can heal. Beauty grown in a furrow plowed by pain. It was an anguish I did not choose, but it was a result of my choices, all the same.

I told her of my persistent striving…

“…somewhere deep inside me I believed I had to be good enough, that I had to do enough, that I had to prove that I was ok for God to really love me. I would have told you that was not true. But I lived my life in terror of not measuring up. And as long as I put up a pretty good front, I could almost convince myself that if I worked a little harder, if I did a little more, I would finally get there.”

I told her that the devastation I thought would kill me turned out to be the beginning of freedom.

“Failing epically, seeing the depth of my own depravity, liberated me from this delusion. It became clear that I would NEVER, EVER be good enough…I have come to understand grace for the astonishing, extravagant miracle it is, in a way I never could when I thought I had bought part of it myself.”

So long as I was trying to attain God on my own the idea of being without resource, of being needy, was abhorrent to me. This song would have been to me a dirge. A pathetic whine from those too lazy to improve themselves. But now, it is to me truth and rest. A grief that is the birth pains of joy. A delicious agony. God IS my only hope. He is enough.

I wish all of you could stand with me, hearing and breathing it. I couldn’t find a recording. So, for those of you as musically nerdy as myself, here it is. A gift for your Lenten walk. From my heart to yours.

Coming Clean…

“The springtime of the Fast has dawned, the flower of repentance has begun to open…” 

I’m a reluctant housekeeper. This is not to say there are wild animals living in our home, or an accrual of partially empty food containers growing science experiments. Well, that might be hasty. I do have teenagers…

Most of the time, it takes the whole of my domestic skill just to stay ahead of the obvious piles. Dishes washed. Laundry dried and folded. But this week I am  dusting blinds, washing windows, and venturing behind furniture to battle dust bunnies (or in my case badgers). It’s “clean week” in the Orthodox Church. One of the accompanying traditions is a thorough cleansing of the home. It is another of the ways life and faith become delightfully, disturbingly tangled.

I drag chairs away from the walls and am astounded by spider webs, fuzzballs, filth. How many times have I sat comfortably in that chair with my nose in a book, completely oblivious to the  contamination?

Last night, during the Cannon of St. Andrew, a bit of furniture got dragged away from the walls. Putrid piles of pollution were exposed. In me. The chanters sang familiar stories of those who chose folly rather than faith, and I was reminded that the story is my own…

“Instead of the visible Eve, I have the Eve of the mind: the passionate thought in my flesh, showing me what seems sweet; yet whenever I taste from it, I find it bitter…I have stained the garment of my flesh, O Savior, and defiled that which was made in Thine image and likeness…I have clothed myself in the torn coat that the serpent wove for me by his counsel, and I am ashamed.”

“I alone have sinned against Thee, I have sinned more than all men; Reject me not, O Christ my Savior. Thou art the Good Shepherd: seek me, the lamb that has strayed, and do not forget me. Thou art my beloved Jesus, Thou art my Creator; in Thee shall I be justified, O Savior.”

Looks as though the both of us need some attention. My house and me. So I keep dusting and scrubbing. And as I dust, I pray. I ask God to keep unearthing the hidden things. It is a terrifying prospect, to be perfectly honest. But I would have Him restore His image in me. To rid me of that which is false. However hard He must scrub.

Have mercy upon me, O God, have mercy upon me.

“O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, despair, lust of power, and idle talk. But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love to Thy servant. Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own transgressions, and not to judge my brother, for blessed art Thou, unto ages of ages. Amen.”

*All quotes in the post taken from The Lenten Triodion.

The Lenten…Feast

Oxymoron?

Lent is a season of absence…of hunger…of longing. Beginning Monday, Christians in the eastern tradition will not eat meat, dairy or eggs until Pascha. A vegan diet is a clean diet. Plant foods digest quickly. What this means is that we will frequently know the gnawing of a stomach that is empty. And our stomachs will inform our hearts. We will wear longing in our bodies. Viscerally. An inescapable meditation.

Christians of many traditions will choose to clean other clutter from their lives during this season of preparation. Some will fast from media. Others from activity and hurry. Seeking to create a quiet space where they can hear the voice of God. And the voice of their own soul.

But Lent isn’t only absence. Church tradition also encourages us to to admit into this quiet space gentle voices that will help wash our souls. That will strengthen our spirits, even as our bodies know hunger. We need this. Lent is hard. Fasting doesn’t just rid our cells of toxins. Toxic places in our hearts reveal themselves as well. The Church will help with special gatherings unique to this season, beginning with the solemn, beautiful Forgiveness Vespers on Sunday afternoon.

Here are some other voices I will invite into my quiet Lenten space this year:

Alexander Schmemann, Great Lent: Journey to Pascha This will be my third time to walk through Lent with Schmemann as my wise and winsome guide. He illuminates the exquisite services of this season making them even more lovely and profound.

Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica, Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives Elder Thaddeus was a wise and gentle spirit who cared for his people in the midst of great personal suffering. May I learn to love as he loved…to see as he saw.

Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts Gratitude is always the antidote to self-pity. In a season of want, I have an idea Ann will be a worthy companion. I have been challenged, inspired, and deeply moved by her blog. I look forward to traveling further with her.

Henri J. M. Nouwen, The Way of the Heart Nouwen is a familiar friend. His tender, honest voice always manages to enable even hard truths find a place inside me. This teaching, drawn from the desert fathers, on solitude, silence and prayer, will be rich fuel for the journey.

David Teems, Speak To Me: For a Faith That Comes by Hearing Favorite Scripture passages, articulated in the poetry of the King James Bible, and accompanied by delicious musical artistry, sing their way into the heart. And I am drenched in fluid peace.

The Sisters of St. Paisius Monastery, A Treasury of Spiritual Songs and All-Night Vigil The hauntingly lovely music, the tenderness and truth sing silence into the room. Into me.

The Brilliance, Brilliance Rich lyric…sometimes drawn from Scripture or prayers of the saints. Elegant, spare arrangements. Profoundly beautiful.

So if you happen to hear my tummy growling, don’t worry about me. Where it really matters, I am feasting.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
II Corinthians 4:16-17

What about you? What does Lent look like for you this year? How will you go about creating a space of quiet? Who will be your companions?

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