Reflection for February 17, 2010: Ash Wednesday .

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Howard, Joan Blandin
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As I write, it is still the dead of winter. We are fortressed by multiple layers of snow. This morning there is a fragile covering of hoarfrost on every tree twig, limb and branch. A soundless depth of grayness insulates my world. The monotone gray background highlights the variety of gray shades that articulate all that is visible from my window. There is a breathless stillness about it, interrupted only by the swift flight of the gray-black junco as she lands on the feeder. I am unhinged, gently free-falling into the artistry, wonder and Mystery of it all.||Today, Ash Wednesday, the Church reminds us that we are entering the season of Lent. Yet many are savoring the graces of Advent and Christmas. We are coming out of Ordinary Time. But there is nothing ordinary about this time in the life of our planet, our country, our Church; even my own life is not ordinary.|No end, no end to the journey |no end, no end never|how can the heart in love| ever stop opening ... (Rumi)|Lent is not a unique season, different from Advent or Christmas. It is part of the journey, the continuum, the falling in love, staying in love, growing in love with Jesus. Lent is an invitation to be open, to be transformed, to be loved. To be open to Love's love, to Love's invitation, to Love's challenge and it is not always easy. Lent is a get-away time. A time to spend together, the Lover and the beloved. It is a time to relax into the relationship, to enjoy, and to refresh and to grow within our unique and intimate bond. Lent is an invitation to trust. Lent is an opportunity to allow Mystery to reveal truths about who I am and who I am called to be.|I am invited to pray, fast, abstain and give alms. But these are not ends in themselves. They are suggestions regarding ways to make room for, to open up to, and to be available to Mystery. To pray - just another way of saying spending time, paying attention, being available to my Lover. Sincere intimate conversation, laughter, tears and deep silent present being-with is prayer. To abstain from that which distracts me from Love is to make room for Love. My Lover brings humor, peace, joy, comfort as well as challenge. The graces of Advent and Christmas support whatever the gift of Lent. Often change and/or reconciliation is the gift of Lent. Movement from unfreedom to freedom may occur within the intimacy of the relationship. Jesus' love changes me. Within Mystery the invitation to reconciliation is gently and mercifully offered. The inner shift from unfreedom to freedom can be this year's Lenten gift. Lent is about inner healing, inner growth. My Lenten journey will resemble no other, because it is unique to my relationship with Jesus. Lent is not a season of doing something, but of experiencing something. Lent is the experience of something deep, exciting, challenging, sincere, profound and me changing. Something in my face, or something subtle and almost overlooked. The graces of Lent as with Advent and Christmas flows and grows within and through me forever, it is not seasonal.|On the journey from the stable under the stars to the cross under the broiling sun to the glorious resurrection morning, may I come to a heartfelt appreciation that yes, evil does exist and I compassionately witness the pain and suffering, possibly live it myself. May I come to a heartfelt knowing that God never abandons me or others and is ever present - in the waiting, in the pain, in the rescue. And that I may live in unending gratitude for the gratuitous gift of God's love ever at hand.|Blessings on our Lenten journeys.
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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