In addition to giving up social media, one of my Lenten disciplines has been to read devotionals from the app—Our Bible, each day. Our Bible has progressive and LGBTQ+ affirming devotionals that last anywhere from 4-11 days and are often themed. One of the devotionals I finished reading over spring break was titled, “Come Have Breakfast: Healing from Burnout and Loving Yourself”, by Micky ScottBey Jones. This 11 day devotional centered on John 21:1-25 and included both prayers and calls to action for ways that we can heal from stress and burnout. One of the calls to action that I found the most intriguing was an invitation to create a Recipe Box of Healing Power, as written about by Bell Hooks. Some of the examples for different recipes included: A Recipe to Deal with Loneliness, Confusion, Affirmations, and many others. Ideas for ingredients included: Meditation, Put on a Song and Dance, Go to Bed Early, Look at Pictures of Loved Ones, and others. As students, we all deal with frustration, weariness, confusion and loneliness, so what would it look like if we came prepared for when these feelings come around again? I’ve been working on coming up with my own recipe book for which ways I can work through stress, loneliness and confusion! What I loved most about this activity is that it is so customizable, each person can decide what issues they feel are most prevalent to them and what “ingredients” are the most useful or the most needed. I would invite everyone both to read this devotional (Our Bible App is free!!) and to come up with their own recipe book, or even just one recipe that you feel you could really use during your days.
"Thus says the Lord:
Cursed are those who trust in mere mortals
and make mere flesh their strength,
whose hearts turn away from the Lord.
They shall be like a shrub in the desert,
and shall not see when relief comes.
They shall live in the parched places of the wilderness,
in an uninhabited salt land.
Blessed are those who trust in the Lord,
whose trust is the Lord.
They shall be like a tree planted by water,
sending out its roots by the stream.
It shall not fear when heat comes,
and its leaves shall stay green;
in the year of drought it is not anxious,
and it does not cease to bear fruit.
The heart is devious above all else;
it is perverse--
who can understand it?
I the Lord test the mind
and search the heart,
to give to all according to their ways,
according to the fruit of their doings."
Recently, I was at a job interview where the interviewer asked, “What was a goal that you expected or assumed would happen but did not? What did you do afterward?”. This was the first time I had thought about a missed opportunity as a question of “what else was going on”? Although I had missed the opportunity, I was able to devote more time to my classes and became involved with a community service organization. We often hear the saying, “As one door closes another one opens”, but do I think about the door that is opening? Or the door that is closing? In this scripture passage, those who trust in the Lord are compared to a tree—one with deep roots who does not cease to bear fruit even during the year of drought. While it is easy for me to list out the “have nots” in my life, the “haves” are much more meaningful; the friend made during a stressful time or the gained courage and confidence to stand up during a time of trial. Looking back on all the times I was struggling with a personal or professional issue, there have always been silver linings that I can be thankful for. During our years of drought, what fruit are we producing?
Maria Pellicier, NYU’20
Spring is in the air—we can feel it with the changing of the clocks, the warmer temperatures and the blooming of plants. I recently read the poem “Spring”, by Mary Oliver which goes:
“And here is the serpent again,/ dragging himself out from his nest of darkness,/ his cave under the black rocks,/ his winter-death./ He slides over the pine needles./ He loops around the bunches of rising grass,/ looking for the sun.
Well, who doesn’t want the sun after the long winter?/ I step aside,/ he feels the air with his soft tongue,/ around the bones of his body he moves like oil,
Downhill he goes/ toward the black mirrors of the pond./ Last night it was still so cold/ I woke and went out to stand in the yard,/ and there was no moon.
So I just stood there, inside the jaw of nothing./ An owl cried in the distance,/ I thought of Jesus, how he/ crouched in the dark for two nights,/ then floated back above the horizon.
There are so many stories/ more beautiful than answers./ I follow the snake down to the pond,
Thick and musky he is/ as circular as hope.”
Each time spring comes around, I experience it as a child, with wonder and awe at the blossoming of new life, the hope of new creation, and the promise to experience it all over again next year.
"Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving *
and make good your vows to the Most High."
For the past few years my Lenten commitment to spiritual discipline of one kind or another has been a bit lacking in actual commitment or sacrifice.
I’ve had little time in advance to thoughtfully plan out an intentional fast. I have chosen a book to study but then passively allowed myself to get behind in the reading schedule. I’ve given up “Lent” for lent as a way to relieve myself from one more pressure or time stress in my calendar.
In all honesty, these outs were valid on many days, partly due to a calendar that revealingly was just over-packed. And I was better able to serve my spiritual life and my other ministry commitments by not piling on additional demands that would only lead to experiences of failure and shame.
But this year I had the time to get my head together about Lent. And I have the bandwidth to “just do it.” I set forth for myself spiritual disciplines in all four areas of study, prayer, fasting and alms-giving. And I’m excited to have the energy and the focus to engage in a meaningful and intentional way.
My acts of self-discipline are about spiritual growth and paying attention; practicing what I preach, and what I invite my community members to participate in at whatever level of engagement their current life demands permit. And I do so with a thankful heart.
As you continue to get your footing in this Lenten season; as you balance the demands placed on you that you have control over and that you choose to put in place to engage your spiritual life, I invite you to remember, the sacrifices that we make to God are pleasing to God because we do so, not out of guilt, or resentment, but because our relationship with God is a gift that we are thankful for. So this season, if nothing else fits, if taking a break from Lent for Lent is what you need, consider making a commitment to offering a sacrifice of thanksgiving to God. In the name of the Holy Trinity, Amen.
Chaplain Mary Cat