Archive for February, 2023

silence and ash

February 22, 2023 4 comments

Ash Wednesday. How is it already Ash Wednesday? Some of us are still picking the pine needles out of the carpet from Christmas!

The transition into the Lenten season is a wonderful thing. One of my favorite devotional writers (Bishop Rueben P. Job) offers these significant thoughts: “The Season of Lent is like a roller coaster ride with emotions that are up and down and up again and again . . . A season that begins with ashes pressed upon our heads ends with the fragrance, sight, and touch of flowers racing through our senses and inviting us to join the triumphant song “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today!” . . . Now we know as never before that our mortality will put on immortality . . . Death and resurrection are now claimed as our own . . . Fear has given way to inexpressible joy, and doubt has given way to triumphant hope. Christ is risen!”

Ash Wednesday is where we begin the Lenten season, with our face pressed hard against the reality of our gaps, shortcomings, and ultimately our looming deaths on this orb. Everything here has a shelf-life. BUT we do know how the story ends. Bishop Job adds again, “In the middle of austerity and fasting we remember our faithful Savior and the Easter declaration that life is always victorious over death, always!”

With all that said, part of the traditional discipline of Lent is fasting of some sort. I’m always fascinated to hear what people decide and declare to “give up” during Lent. Of course, this is a heart thing, and some are strictly committed to their 40-ish days of fasting. What I’m offering below is something that I’ve never really considered as a possibility for a Lenten fast, but wow… do I ever see the need as a delicious gift to ourselves and others.

One more thought and then I’ll let you get on with your day. Remember… your Lenten fast doesn’t just have to be about subtraction.  It could be about adding something to your regiment or routine that adds value to something or someone. That might actually be more helpful in the long run.

Onward my brothers and sisters! Much love and peace. —MDP

Richard J. Foster (Freedom of Simplicity) writes: The Desert Fathers renounced speech in order to learn compassion. A charming story is told of Abbott Macarius, who said to the brethren at the Church of Scete, “Brethren, flee.” Perplexed, one of the brothers asked, “How can we fly further than this, seeing we are here in the desert?” Macarius placed his finger to his mouth and said, “Flee from this.” When Arsenius, the Roman educator who gave up his status and wealth for the solitude of the desert, prayed, “Lord, lead me into the way of salvation,” he heard a voice saying, “Be silent.”

Silence frees us from the need to control others. One reason we can hardly bear to remain silent is that it makes us feel so helpless. We are accustomed to relying upon words to manage and control others. A frantic stream of words flows from us in an attempt to straighten others out. We want so desperately for them to agree with us, to see things our way. We evaluate people, judge people, condemn people. We devour people with our words. Silence is one of the deepest Disciplines of the Spirit simply because it puts the stopper on that.


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