First Sunday in Lent

I’m one of those wacky people who loves Lent. As the calendar hits mid to late February, my liturgical memory kicks in and I start to sing the refrains to the Great Litany: “Good Lord, deliver us, ” Son of God, we beseech thee to hear us,” O Christ, hear us…”

I wish the entire year were divided into 40-day segments, each with a specific spiritual task assigned to it. During Lent the task is repentance–a turning away from the things that keep us from God and a turning toward those things that draw us near to God.  During Lent I don’t feel I need to apologize for saying “No” to certain habits or “Yes” to certain prayer and fasting practices. If I can add or subtract something from my life for forty days, maybe I will make the U-turn I need. The 40-day structure is the rehearsal period for the way I want to behave on the other 325 days of the year.

This year for Lent I have committed to three subtractions and additions:
1.  (-) Saying “No” to computer Scrabble. I spend far too many minutes of the day looking for ways to use all seven letters on my rack and to find places on the board for “oe” and “qi.” Computer Scrabble is a terrific game, but my allegiance to it is just a little askew.

2) (-) Resisting conversations (even in my head) about weight and age (mine or anyone else’s).

3)  (+) Praying/drawing with a daily Lenten calendar using the many names for God.

I write these things not because I feel righteous about “observing a Holy Lent” but  for accountability. If I say them out loud to a community, I might just do them.

Ruler Prayer

When my husband Andy leads Praying in Black and White workshops with men, he takes a tool bucket with him. In it are black pens, plain paper, graph paper, protractors, triangles and rulers. These supplies are to help participants feel comfortable drawing their prayers even if they are nervous about doodling.

I’ve been doing this long enough that drawing abstract shapes is not threatening to me any more. But I thought, “What would happen if I tried praying with a ruler?”  So one day when I just wanted to be quiet in prayer with no agenda, I used paper, black, pen, and a six-inch ruler. It was a sweet time with God.

Purple Heart Valentines

by Sharon Pavelda
–My father was awarded the Purple Heart medal when he was wounded in battle somewhere near the German border in 1944. He carried shrapnel from that wound in his body for over sixty years before dying peacefully in Arizona at the age of eighty-nine. I loved my fatherʼs real heart and I was fascinated by the medal that commemorated the wound he had survived in service to his country.I loved the medalʼs heart shape, so sentimental and locket-like, and the almost cameo feel to it with George Washingtonʼs profile centered just so. It made me think of jewelry whenever I saw it. My father wasnʼt much for glorifying war, nor his part in it, and I was glad of that. Nevertheless, feelings of gratitude and awe would sometimes overtake me when I would catch a glimpse of the scars on his chest and back.
***
–Many years after the war, with my fatherʼs wholehearted approval, my younger sisters and I had his medal made into a bracelet for our oldest sister. She had been the only one of us siblings to have settled in Arizona, and she had shouldered the pain and joy of care-giving for my parents as my motherʼs health slowly succumbed to liver disease. We wanted to honor her service to our family and to the wounds of the heart that hands-on caregiving of a loved one inevitably brings. It is beautiful, and she loves it.
***
–I believe that every human heart suffers some wound in the action of living and loving. The good news is that our hearts have been made to break open, in order to become capable of holding and sharing more love, if we are willing. The bad news is that we donʼt often get awarded medals for our heartbreak and the survival thereof!
***
–This year, at The Purple Door on Young studio in Memphis, where we issue invitations to play our way home to Love, we invited folks to come and make any version of a Purple Heart Medal they wished. They were encouraged to make one for themselves as well as for anyone else they wished to honor. Stories were shared and received. Paper and organdy and glitter went where words couldnʼt go. Some of us found places in our hearts that were surprisingly tender. The bigger surprise was how we also felt soothed by touching them and comforted by the communion we discovered in the very act of creating together. It has long been my belief that when we play from the heart, we meet in the heart of the Creator. We know we are there when our words dance, our silence sings, and our art heals.
Sharon’s story reminded me of a song by Linda Worster called Heal My Heart. You can read the lyrics and listen to the song on an album called Grief and Grace by Mark Kelso. But here are the first and last verses:
Jesus my brother, come heal my heart,
There’s a piece missing, it’s falling apart
And my life’s leaking out through the hole left behind
Leaving me empty helpless an d blind
***
Breathe on me Jesus; I know You can heal it
If pain is my teacher, I’m ready to feel it
And make of my pieces a work of Your art,
Jesus my brother, heal my heart.

Photos: Bracelet and Purple door Valentines–Pavelda Family
Purple Heart– Free ClipArt

Lenten Calendar Templates 2012

Here is the link to two calendar templates for Lent. Lent starts with Ash Wednesday on February 22.

If you are looking for a Lenten discipline, consider praying on a calendar template for the forty days.  It’s a simple, not very time-consuming discipline. Here are some ideas for ways to use the calendar:

• Pray for a person each day.
• Pray or meditate on a word of Scripture or a spiritual/religious word: peace, salvation, joy, Jesus, redeem, love….
• Write a different name for God (Almighty One, Jesus, Holy Spirit, Beloved Savior, Blessed Redeemer…) each day and just hang out with God as you draw. Try using the name you choose in all of your prayers that day.
• Pray a short phrase of Scripture: “Create in me a clean heart, O God,” “Surely, it is God who saves me,”…..
• Meditate on “things done and things left undone.”—a confessional  calendar
• Make a gratitude calendar.

I like to print the template and blow it up to fit a piece of 11×17 card stock–129% works well.  To download one of the templates below, click on the one you want. For the beehive/hexagonal calendar you can decide where the dates go. Both calendars have 46 days on them. (Sundays do not officially count as days of Lent or fasting but as days of celebration. For me it’s easier just to stay with the program of whatever discipline I choose for the whole 46 days.)

Beehive Prayer

A Facebook friend sent me a link for downloading interesting, free paper as a possible template for praying in color prayers. The page was full of connecting hexagons and looked like the cellular structure of a beehive. I noticed that the link offered other shapes besides hexagons and the opportunity to change the size of each shape. I can download a page full of hexagons with 1/2 ” sides or a page with just a few big hexagons. Here’s the link .

I decided to try making my own paper with hexagons using the Draw menu in Word. It wasn’t too difficult. I like the hexagonal structure for several reasons:
1. It’s aesthetically pleasing to my mathematical eye.
2. It is efficient in terms of space. The pieces fit together like a jigsaw puzzle.
3. My prayer can grow. Tomorrow or later this week, I can pray for other people in the empty cells.
4.  The honeycomb structure of a beehive is a spread of hexagons. I like to think that all of us in our joys and sorrows are in this cosmic hive together.

Thanks for this idea, Darla.