Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Lenten pilgrimage...an introduction to meditations on themes of lent

This year Curt and I decided to pilgrimage with an online group for the season of Lent. Not something we’ve done before, but it has thus far touched us both deeply, as individuals and as we journey together. Perhaps moreso because we dwell in this place where we alone are believers.
Because the journey has been thus far intense and rich, and because it is where we are living just now, I’ve decided to share bits and pieces from along the way. In this first post I’ll explain some listening-with-scripture prayer concepts and practices that could be new to you. Who knows? These might give help in your own walk with Jesus.
Lent? What about fasting? You may ask, since for many of us that is the main thing we think of at Lent. So I’ll get that out of the way. For me, I’ve substantially disengaged from computer screens. I barely glance at Facebook just to see things our kids may have posted; and I refuse web-surfing expeditions. All that includes reading many fewer blogs and articles. I’m not sure this is a true fast since I would be better off to leave most of this stuff behind permanently. But it has opened more time for prayer and other valuable graces. Yet even as I experience the freedom, there is this slurping sound of powerful suction that wants to pull me back in.
The shape of our online pilgrimage is a weekly set of six approaches, one for each day save Sunday, to pray and meditate with one piece of Scripture. And a venue for sharing and discussion among our fellow pilgrims and our leaders. One day we consider a theme, one day we use lectio divina (listening prayer), one day we imagine our way into the events of the passage, one day we engage in photography or some other visual art as we go about carrying the Word in our conscious prayer, one day we integrate, and the last day we reflect on the journey with the week’s passage.
The Genesis passage where God expelled Adam and Eve from Eden was our scripture for the first week. I drew back when I saw it. A whole week with this saddest day in human history? Yet Lent is about identifying with Christ’s suffering and temptation, about sharing a measure of that journey to the cross. That surely must include remembering with our whole being why His journey was necessary.
In case “contemplative imagination” is an unfamiliar concept, it describes a prayerful exploration of a passage by putting sensory self into the story. Consider passage clues to smell, weather, sound, dirt, thirst, taste, and all manner of physical sensation, as well as clues to thought and emotion. For me, sometimes I ask myself to notice where I am in the picture. Do I most identify with one person or another? Or am I a member of the crowd, an observer? In part, this is prayer that acknowledges that real people lived these stories. A way of sharing their joy, confusion, suffering, relief, hope. In part it is a prayer to notice my response to the passage. Is there truth I don’t want to look at? Is there someone I don’t like and prefer to ignore or reject? Is there an invitation to move closer into relationship with Jesus that I am resisting? What might that be about? Am I included in the teaching and blessing, or do I stand on the outside at some distance? Are the words of warning and promise for me, or for others in the story?

With prayer that these musings will encourage you.... Blessings!

This pilgrimage photo (very Fiddler on the Roof) is from my first visit to Albania 10 years ago.

No comments: