Spiritual Exercises for the 40 Days (part II)

Well day one into Lent and I’ve already fallen down on the whole write every day thing. Sigh. In fairness to me, I had a couple of things happen, one of which included a minor pastoral emergency and the second is that when I sat down to truly write, my internet was down.

So…on to the list.

Day Sixteen: Be still. The Psalmist calls us to “Be still, and know that I am God!” and yet stillness is so hard to come by. A day without the internet or television, a day with space to listen. A day may be too much, so maybe a morning or a few hours will do, to get the space open.

Day Seventeen: Hang out in God’s handiwork.  Try the Botanical Gardens or the mountain you want to hike. I realize this may be challenging for those of us who live in colder climates. Sneak a peek at the newborns at your local hospital or better yet, take dinner to friends with a new baby and hold the baby while they eat (I did this on Valentine’s Day–a great way to celebrate!).

Day Eighteen: Say grace or give thanks before you eat. Here are a few out of the Book of Common Prayer (1979), but there are plenty of others out there. And of course, you can always make up your own.
Give us grateful hearts, our Father, for all thy mercies, and make us mindful of the needs of others; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

or this

Bless, O Lord, thy gifts to our use and us to thy service; for Christ’s sake. Amen.

or this

Blessed are you, O Lord God, King of the Universe, for you give us food to sustain our lives and make our hearts glad; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

or this

For these and all his mercies, God’s holy Name be blessed and praised; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Day Nineteen: Pray in the shower. It’s short and sweet and to the point. If you need extra time, condition your hair twice.

Day Twenty: Try a new posture at church. Do you always stand during the Eucharistic prayer? Try kneeling. Do you always kneel? Try standing. Sing louder than you normally would, or, if you’re like me, sing more quietly. We approach God, through our worship, with all that we are, body, mind, spirit and voice. Sometimes moving in a new way helps us free ourselves up to hear and be with God in a new way.

Day Twenty-one: I can hear people who know me laughing at this one, but try to grow something. A small plant or seedlings that can sprout. I may be going with a Chia pet. The idea is pretty simple–watch how God can use dirt and time and little tiny seeds and make something pretty amazing. If God can do that with seeds, what can God do with us?

Day Twenty-two: Get involved. Is there a local community group that cares for the needs of the neighborhood? In my neck of the woods, it’s the Lakeview Action Coalition. Go to a meeting or just call and ask–what are the concerns in your part of the world? Through the eyes of Lakeview Action Coalition, I am more aware of the needs of homeless youth. In the entire city of Chicago, there are only 37 beds available for homeless youth. What is the Gospel response?

Day Twenty-three: Say or walk the Stations of the Cross. You can do it online, or at a church, or search for the hidden and not-so-hidden modern day realities that make up the Stations in your neighborhood.

Day Twenty-four: Spend your day looking for places of grace. When you find one, write it down.

Day Twenty-five: Spend time with someone you love, someone you haven’t seen for awhile. How better do we experience the extravagant love of God than by being with those around us, those people who remind us of our belovedness, those people who reflect the love of God back to us. And we, hopefully, in turn, do the same for them. 

More to come…

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