Sunday, March 5, 2017

Lent Reflection: Saturday, March 4

Saturday was a day of travel for me. I woke early and could not sleep and spent time watching some television and was in my head quite a bit. The television I watched was The Americans a show set in the early 1980s about a husband and wife who were brought together as KGB spies to serve undercover in the United States. The couple has grown to love one another after 20 years and while the stress of the job and the fact of the 'job' itself seems to create appearances that they cannot show their love, they do have this quality in their lives.

The focus for my meditation on Saturday was Nik, my dear husband of 20 years. We have been together nearly 30 years, and we've seen the better and some worse, and we still love one another. Most of my actions were dedicated to service of him yesterday. I spent time at the knife outlet in Sevierville getting some things that he wanted for himself and others. It's a labor of love for me to do these things for him. While it has material appearances, it remains as a gesture of love.

Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord; 
and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, 
and with all your soul, and with all your might. 
And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; 
and you shall teach them diligently to your children, 
and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, 
and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, 
and when you rise. -- Deuteronomy 6:4-7

In my time thinking about and praying for Nik on Saturday, I am astounded by his constant kindnesses to others. He embraces all the best things that people have to offer and willingly sacrifices where he is able and where it will benefit those who need more than he does. His work in the world is service by nature and he seeks to do nothing more than serve others, even me. I found a tweet that he posted last Monday, when I was home ill and unable to function due to a massive sinus infection.

NikHavert My is nursing as she deals with a sinus infection.

It's these small but powerful things that remind me how much I am loved here on Earth and that point to the love beyond imagination that God has for us.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Lent Reflection: Friday, March 3

In addition to my nightly prayer, or Compline, I have added a daily devotion of prayer and meditation for those who are in my life. Thursday, was focus on my dad. Friday was focus on my mom. Compline for Friday included Psalm 87: The prayer of one gravely ill. I hope that my focus on this prayer helped release some of the pain I felt at my mom's illness and passing nearly six years ago. Photos from that time are popping up in my Facebook memories, and it all comes flooding back to me.

Lord, you are in our midsts, we are called by your name. 
Do not desert us, O Lord our God! --Jeremiah 14:9

My work at the conference was good yesterday. My anxiety levels were low. I'm in a place where my parents were together in 1982: Knoxville, Tennessee, the site of the World's Fair. I turned 12 that same year. That was 35 years ago and so much is different. That seems strange to say, really, as change happens every moment in our lives.

I like to think that I'm good at handling change. I'm not any better at it than most people. I stress in the face of change and then put on the brave mask to work through or around it. I spend a lot of time fighting things I can give over and let go. The verse from Jeremiah above tells us how to conquer stress and to ask for help when needed.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Lent Reflection: Ash Wednesday

Wednesday was a day of travel for me. I spent much of the day in transit by car or in the air. I was worried I would miss my flight, so I skipped morning Mass and went to an evening service in my destination city, Knoxville, Tennessee. It was the right thing to do.

The All Saints Catholic Church has a school affiliation and the sanctuary filled to capacity for the 5:00 pm service. The children were singing beautifully off-key and the pastor's homily was spot on for what I needed to hear on this day. He reminded me of the three facets of Lent: Penitence, fasting and almsgiving. I've been bombarded with ideas for Lenten commitments and have chosen one for myself. The reminder of almsgiving though gave me pause. I thought of ways I can be always prepared to give and hope that I can add this in.

My commitment for Lent, however, is including the Compline, or night prayers, from the Liturgy of the Hours in my bedtime routine. Really what my focus and intent is will bring a reflection of my conscience and an emphasis on the day. I hope that this is a habit I can form in 40 days, but if not, I plan to keep practicing.

Do not let resentment lead you into sin; the sunset must not find you still angry. 
Do not give the devil his opportunity. - Ephesians 4:26-27

Last night's prayer and meditation helped me to see that I can use some kindness in some of my relationships, and curiosity as well. Conversation has become difficult with some family because of attitudes and things said in recent months. These aren't things that are related to politics like some strained relationships are experiencing. I have been working through my upset, and it's really more about hearing words that are contrary to life-long beliefs I have had about people in my family, particularly my dad, who I thought had been part of my formation in support of equality in how to treat others. Nik says he's trying to stir things up on purpose, that dad enjoys upsetting me. In either case, it's not right and it's not fun for me. And so my response is to shut it down and not engage in the conversations as fully as I might with others. Why would I want to subject myself to that behavior? And when I've tried to engage on why it's hurtful, wrong or offensive, I get that thrown in my face as well. It's truly difficult for me.

The Laudate app on my phone has the prayer available with the daily Psalms. Find the app in your app store (Apple | Android)