I must have said this before, but I love Lent. I know that it sounds strange, since it is supposed to be a time of penance and sobriety. But there is such power in this time of the year. Every year, without exception I get a big revelation. I set out with a need, an intention for something I want in my life or something I want to change. Just by putting out that intention, I usually end up with something that hits me in full force. This year was not different. I just sat at my altar, quietly listening, and it became clear what would be my quest this year. Sorry for the suspense, but I am not sharing. This is my lesson for the year. I don’t want to influence anyone in what they need to invite in their lives. Try it just once, to sit and listen to the voice within and you will be amazed at what comes up.

Here is how Lent manifests in my life:
First I listen for that lesson I need to learn. Then I make a commitment to work on it for the duration of Lent. Then that lesson becomes a guide for my actions over the next weeks. Holy Week usually offers a final insight on my life, something that really stays with me. For as long as I have done this, I can recall every lesson that has been given me this way.

Since hearing my lenten lesson, I have been putting the lesson into action and pushing my limits. Just being in the mindset creates opportunities for the lesson to manifest. One thing leads to another and the world just opens up into a dialogue between me and the Divine. It is precious beyond words.

May your Lent be filled with Grace.

English: Leaving traces on soft sand dunes in ...

I just saw something that shook me up. I crossed into New York state for a training this morning. I passed by a church that had a billboard in the front. The billboard said: ‘God wrote the first Valentine with two boards and three nails.’

Am I the only one that finds that offensive? I don’t see how an act of violence like the crucifixion can be construed as an act of Divine Love. I understand the rhetoric of redemption through Christ’s sacrifice. To me, the act of crucifying someone isn’t the ‘act of God’, but the ‘act of Man’ and I don’t understand why the act has to be glorified. I have sat in contemplation on the mystery of the cross and it has brought me many teachings on a symbolic level: the surrender to divine will, the acceptance of my humanity, the concept of karma and the payment of a karmic debt. The glory of the crucifixion was that our humanity and divinity were combined in one last act and that the Innocent took on the karmic debt of the many. It links many mystery traditions through the depiction of the slain god, pierced and hung from a tree. It is a beautiful symbol. But my tradition is one of love and inner power, and it is a travesty of that mystery to elevate violence and confuse it with love. God’s love has nothing to do with two boards and three nails.

In any case, today is Ash Wednesday. I love Lent. It is a period to reflect about the kind of person I want to be and the lessons I want to learn. We strive to be like Jesus: a perfect combination of humanity and divinity. I get frustrated with myself very often for not being able to move on to that place of Spirit, for getting bogged down with the nitty gritty of human existence. It feels like an invisible wall that I just can’t cross.

The truth of the matter is that no one knows what happened on the road to Cana. No one wrote how Jesus felt before he came into his power. No one knows how frustrating it might have been for him to deal with humanity or how he came know that he could transcend it all. No one knows the road to Cana. No one knows what happened in the desert to transform him. So maybe all this doubt and frustration we are feeling is just our road to Cana, our journey through the desert. Maybe the awakening is coming.

I haven’t decided what I will work on this Lent. But I will reflect on what I need to do in that desert to come out the other side a better person. 

Just wanted to share a thought that came to me as I sat and pondered the meaning of the ashes. ‘You are ashes and to ashes you shall return.’ It struck me how everything is temporary. Everything is temporary. So why worry about our daily sorrows if by tomorrow they are already ash in the wind?

So, I spent the evening sitting on the couch reading Mary Malone’s trilogy on Women and Christianity, while my daughter served me imaginary tea and my men played on the computer. In terms of sacred space, it couldn’t get much more sacred than that!

Blessed Lent everyone!

Lent starts tomorrow with Ash Wednesday. As I’ve discussed on The Christian Pagan Fellowship discussion board, my practice of Lent has changed over the years and much more so since I am walking a Pagan path. When I was younger, I would usually give up something, usually sweets and chocolate. As I grew in my spiritual practice, I decided to make this a time of learning and a time to become a better person. So, now, instead of focusing on deprivation (I still try not to go in excess during this time), I focus on improvement. I try to select a feature that I would like to improve about myself or a skill that I would like to develop. Over the years, I have done many things: taking time to listen to what people are really saying, abstaining from talking about someone when they aren’t there, asking about people to get to know them better, making time for silence, buying less, trying not to control everything… What I have found is that 40 days is just enough time to really integrate a new habit and to make it a part of who you are. It’s really a life-long gift that you give yourself.

The last few months have been hectic and I have just been going through the motions trying to keep up with my own life choices. So I’ve decided that I would take this time to reconnect to my sacred space. I want to get back into the habit of doing my daily devotions, the way I used to. I want to greet the sun every morning and say my prayers every night in thanks to my Lord and Lady. I want to establish sacred space in this new house that we are just getting to know by re-visiting my altar space and playing my drum more often. I want to make space and time for reading and writing again, because this and my family is what connects me to my sacred source.

Another important part of Lent is the giving to others. It is part of our Tradition to consider the needy during this time. I read something in a book on Kabbalah (God is a Verb, Rabbi David Cooper, amazing!) many years ago that always stuck with me. It gave the suggestion to have some money aside or a cheque for a fixed amount (the amount isn’t important) and to give it to the first person who asks. This way, you really let the Divine work through you without you determining what is a worthy cause and what isn’t. About three weeks ago, I was in the subway and I saw a homeless man, passed out, half naked, with a stub instead of an arm. Another man was a little off to the side and was screaming at another passerby: ‘It’s a human being, not an animal. No need to look at him that way!’ I reached into my pocket and handed over what little change I had. The friend took out a large beer bottle from under his coat, gave me a cheers and said thank you. I was taken aback for a split second. Did I just make a mistake by giving these guys money? But I felt deep within that I had done a marvelous thing. First of all, beer has a whole lot of calories, which is what people need if they can’t get enough food. It also helps forget how devastating the situation is. And it probably helps to have company, so why shouldn’t they have their beer? What’s more, what if today this man wakes up and decides he wants to move on and he needs my dollar to do that? Who am I to judge that he doesn’t deserve that chance? So, I walked away with a smile on my face and felt like I had opened up a tiny crack in the universe where something may emerge if it wanted to. So, during Lent, I’ll just keep a whole lot of change in my pockets and give it up to whoever knocks on my door.

I wish you all a blessed Lent. May this time of reflection bring you all joy and peace and a deep sense that God moves through us all.