Every evening during this Lenten Season (the six weeks leading up to Easter) I light the white candle next to the iron Celtic Cross, take the homemade journal and the pen to the other side of the table near my laptop and listen to online guided meditations. The journal was made by one of the members of the Spiritual Formation group that meets at my house weekly, and the wooden pen was made by a Member of the congregation I served in the Oklahoma City area almost twenty years ago. The front canning jar contains dirt. The one behind it contains water. In the past I have used those jars of dirt and water in Children’s Messages at church along with a potted plant. The message was a simple one. The most beautiful flowers, as well as each of us, are made of the very same stuff, dirt and water. The only reason that the dirt and water of which each of us is made does not remain a pile of dirt and a puddle of water is that there is a Someone who wants that particular dirt and water to be each of us. That Someone is busily holding the dirt and water together forming each one of us every moment of every day of our lives.
The dirt and water in the jars are humbling reminders that I am made of the same common elements as everyone else. In that sense I am one with every other creature on the planet. I did not nor could I have created myself. That is so even for those who don’t happen to believe that a Creator with intentionality exists. The penitential dimension of the Lenten season is a time to settle into that humbling reality. I brought nothing with me when I came to exist. The view that I am the center of the world and the purpose of the rest of the planet is to stroke my ego is greatly flawed. It isn’t so.
The flowers shout loudly and clearly that dirt and water put together by a Creator can produce something of great beauty. It is not humiliating to admit that I am made of dirt and water, it is exhilarating to realize that my existence is the one and only unique result of the will of Someone who chooses for me to exist. For those who are not comfortable with the idea of a Creator, there is the wonder of the serendipitous combination of elements producing their existence.
I use the journal to jot down thoughts that come as I reflect on the various parts of the audio meditations. Most often I use at least a couple of the options available online, sometimes more. Most of the meditations can be done in ten minutes or so. I choose to allot about an hour. That amount allows time for reflection, a chance for my mind to slow and time to enjoy the pleasure that most often emerges. My faith tradition adds the element of feeling immersed in unconditional love cued by the visuals of the Cross and candle and the events to which they point.
The guided imagery that I am using comes from a web site intended for those who use portable listening devices. I listen to them on my laptop rather than downloading them to a portable device of some sort. One option is intended for reflecting on the day’s activities and experiences. The music quiets my spirit and the narrator provides just enough guidance to allow reflections to emerge as the day is observed with new eyes. Another of the options on the site provides a new combination of music, Scripture quotations, reflective comments and questions for contemplation each day. A third option on the site is a six session retreat, each session made up of a number of parts. There is a panel on one side of the home page that has links to other sites. I often choose the Taizé Community’s site, then going to the audio’s of songs and worship services. The site is: http://www.pray-as-you-go.org/
Lent began only three days ago on Ash Wednesday. So far these times of meditation have been rich with insights and profoundly healing.