Making the space

Some of my favorite pages on Facebook are ones that remind me to keep it simple and focus on what’s important. Pages like Simplify Days, Imperfectly Simple or Simplicity Habit remind me that I don’t need to buy the things I used to years ago for the house or to decorate. First of all, I would like to get rid of things before I buy more and if I store the items downstairs, it’s a bigger project to bring them up and down. I seem to have less energy for the decorating changes that I used to do. Lately, it takes me longer to decorate for each new season and I am happier leaving items up all year instead of swapping them for a seasonal adornment.

Saturday morning I read another beautiful reflection from Franciscan Media’s Pause and Pray, the prayer email and blog I mentioned last week, reminding us to not be “possessed by our possessions” and to take things off our calendars so we have more time for rest, prayer and reflection. As we declutter things, from our calendar and our life, we make room for what’s important. It was a lovely consideration, and prayer, regarding many of the things I have talked about in this blog. But still, it was a welcome reminder for me this weekend, after a very busy week, and an inappropriate level of worry because the Easter bunnies haven’t made their way up the stairs yet and a multitude of other projects on my to do list.

So here we are on the threshold of Holy Week, today celebrating Palm Sunday and about to enter the holiest of weeks in the liturgical year, as we look ahead to the Triduum; Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil and Easter. I am amazed at how quickly we journeyed through Lent this year!

During Lent we reflected on making space for prayer, or to rest, and to simply be with ourselves and our thoughts. Perhaps you, like me, selected things to “give up” this Lent. Maybe you chose to add things that you desired to make time for, like a special retreat, volunteer work or devoting more time in prayer. Whichever way you opted to observe Lent the point of our choice is sacrifice, yes, but also to focus our attention on God instead of the desires that consume us. When we want to reach for a favorite treat or indulgence, but choose not to as our Lenten observance of fasting, we turn our attention to those who have less than we have, or to God, with a request to fill that space with something more meaningful.

As I reflect back on the past week I consider the number of times I let personal or national news impact my sense of well-being and focus. I can be easily derailed by a comment someone makes or the events in a given moment. My Lenten Rice Bowl is filled with dollar bills as a result of giving in to frustration and using language I prefer to eliminate. However, I am finding that, as a result of my attention to prayer and spiritual study, those moments are more short-lived than they used to be. I can get back on track quicker than I have in the past.

If you started Lent with an intention and gave up mid-stream as a result of a momentary lapse, or perhaps never really started a Lenten practice, there is still time to enter into this grace-filled season of the year with a renewed attention on what is important. Our new practices don’t have to be limited to the 40 days of Lent, Easter is a time of renewal and resurrection! We can choose activities and attitudes that bring us more joy.

I loved a statement made by Abbot John Klassen, St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, MN, as part of his reflection in Give Us This Day for Saturday, April 1, “On the Cusp of Holy Week”. Abbot Klassen said “The profound events of this holy time give us space to reflect on where we are spiritually and emotionally – to reflect on how we might open ourselves to the liberating, transformative message of the dying and rising of Jesus.”

Let us journey through this Holy Week, with prayerful attention, immersed in the solemn beauty and ritual of these holy days, with eyes on Easter and the life, with God, we are meant to live.

Peace, may you experience many graces this Holy Week! Deena

p.s. If you desire to enter more deeply into a contemplative prayer practice but are searching for new ideas or methods, you may want to consider a new course that is being offered by Ignatian Ministries and our founder, Becky Eldredge. If you are not familiar with Ignatian spirituality and prayer methods I believe you will find it an interesting and refreshing addition to your prayer practice. It is called Going Past the Shallows and begins this Weds, April 5, meeting once a month for 6 months. There is more information on the link. If you have questions, just let me know.

Photo from my photo library – Holy Family Church, Oglesby IL

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