In his book, Following Jesus: Finding Our Way Home in an Age of Anxiety by Henri Nouwen, Nouwen says, “The great art of spiritual living is to pay attention to the breathing of the spirit right where you are and to trust that there will be breathing of new life.” Where is God breathing new life into yours?
I am trying to learn Dutch. Honestly, between you and me, it is not really going that well. Come to find out, it is an extremely hard language to grasp and I’m finding that not many of the words are sinking into my pandemic-induced, fuzzy brain. I stumble across the Dutch word lente, which is so close to the Italian word, lento! Lento (I somehow remember from piano lessons long ago) means slow or slowly — surely in Dutch it means something similar? But, no. Lente in English means spring, not really even close to the word slow. Or is it?
Growing up in Michigan, I remember celebrating, shedding my mittens the minute the tiniest, green tip of a crocus would pop through the snow. Then we would wait…and wait as the rest of Spring would slowly catch up. Many times we would disappointedly wear a winter coat over our new Easter dresses and leave our new, white sandals at home in order to dodge melting piles of snow on our way to church. Yet, I’m finding that sometimes here in California, where most days are sunny and warm, and each day is more of the same, it is easy to overlook the signs of Spring. And even more so, it is easy to take nature and our God-created Mother Earth for granted. Still, I am drawn back to this correlation of words — Lente. Lento. Lent. Spring. Slow. And I think the spirit is trying to move me, inspire me to perhaps slow down and truly take in the miracle of rebirth, of Spring.
Each day during Lent I have committed to take one photo and document God’s creation. Whether it is the sunrise at the dawn of a new day, or a sprout reaching out of the earth towards the sky — there is so much natural beauty right outside our doorstep. We simply must slow down long enough to see it.
“We need to find ways of being reminded that our religious sanctuaries are, at best, side chapels in the the great cathedral of creation. Otherwise the impression is given, as it has been historically, again and again, that God is somehow more present within the four walls than in every other place and that the meeting within the four walls of our religious sanctuaries is somehow more sacred than all other moments and that the pope within the four walls are somehow more holy than all other people.”
- J. Philip Newell.
COLLECT OF THE DAY
O God, with you is the well of life, and in your light we see light: Quench our thirst with living water, and flood our darkened minds with heavenly light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
LISTEN TO "PRAYER FOR CREATIVITY"
Click link below to listen to John Philip Newell's "Chant: You Shall Be Like A Garden - A Prayer for Creativity."
LISTEN TO "EARTH AND SOUL" PODCAST
Click link below to listen to the Earth and Soul podcast in which Rob Bell interviews John Philip Newell on his teachings.
Click on the link below to purchase today's suggested read: An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith by Barbara Brown Taylor.