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WEEKLY PRAYER

A prayer from St. Catherine of Siena (1347-1380):

Eternal Trinity, You are a deep sea. The more I enter You, the more I discover of You; and the more of You I discover, the more I know to look for You.

God, You are voracious, and in Your depths the soul is satisfied, yet I always remain hungry for You and thirsty for You, Eternal Trinity, longing to see You with the light in Your Light.

As the deer longs for a stream’s living water, my soul longs to escape from the prison of my problematic body. I want to see You in truth, absolutely. How long will You hide Your face from my eyes?

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FRIDAY FAVORITES FOR PRAYER AND WRITING

Welcome to Friday Favorites, where each week I share some of my favorite finds related to praying or writing. Today, I especially want to share some posts to help us begin our journey through Lent. And I’m continuing to highlight the talented writing of #WOCwithpens (“women of color with pens”).

Dig deep, and may God bless you as you journey through the Lenten season.

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Was Blind, But Now I See: My Sankofa Story via Nilwona Nowlin (a journey to Ghana and the hard work of reconciliation)

Caught Between Two Languages: Unlocking discoveries to God and family via (writing as discovery, language as distance)

The Making (A Lenten Poem) via Prasanta Verma (read this beautiful poem for Lent)

On Lent and What To Do About It via Tina Osterhouse (check out this list of resources for Lent, including a devotional to which Tina contributed)

The Wilderness Is Where Christians Go to (Eventually) Move Forward via Ed Cyzewski (a step that uncertain evangelicals can take, which happens to coincide well with the season of Lent; while you’re there, take a look at Ed’s new book)

Midlife Is Like Lent via Michelle Van Loon (on a season of life that carries with it a reminder that we are dust)

Dani Shapiro On the Hard Art of Balancing Writing and Social Media via Dani Shapiro (on sorting out the quiet from the noise…good for writers…good for Lent…warning: spicy language in this post)

CONTEMPLATIVE PROFILE: ST. BENEDICT ON THE OBSERVANCE OF LENT

The season of Lent has begun. How do we observe Lent in our lives? Do we give something up? If so, what? When I was growing up, my friend and I gave up Carmex (the medicated lip balm) some years. Strange, but true — and perhaps not the very best way to prepare for the resurrection of Jesus.

Perhaps the ancients of the Church can help us. In his Rule for Monasteries, written in the sixth century, St. Benedict (c. 480-547) includes a chapter entitled, “On the Observance of Lent.” He writes:

***

Although the life of a monk
ought to have about it at all times
the character of a Lenten observance,
yet since few have the virtue for that,
we therefore urge that during the actual days of Lent
the brethren keep their lives most pure
and at the same time wash away during these holy days
all the negligences of other times.
And this will be worthily done
if we restrain ourselves from all vices
and give ourselves up to prayer with tears,
to reading, to compunction of heart and to abstinence.

 

During these days, therefore,
let us increase somewhat the usual burden of our service,
as by private prayers and by abstinence in food and drink.
Thus everyone of his own will may offer God
“with joy of the Holy Spirit” (1 Thess. 1:6)
something above the measure required of him.
From his body, that is,
he may withhold some food, drink, sleep, talking and jesting;
and with the joy of spiritual desire
he may look forward to holy Easter.

***

For his monks, St. Benedict advises the moderate withholding of food, drink, sleep or talking. But more than that, he has suggestions on what to add: prayer with tears, reading, and holy desire.

I especially like how Benedict ends this passage. During Lent, Christians are to look forward to Easter with the “joy of spiritual desire.” We know that Easter brings joy, but so should the darker season of Lent bring a somber and holy kind of joy — that of yearning for Christ, whose resurrection we await. May this unique joy be yours as you prepare for resurrection and renewal in your life.

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WEEKLY PRAYER

A prayer from Origen (184-253):

Let us pray that Jesus may reign over us and that our land may be at peace — i.e., that our bodies may be free from the assaults of fleshly desires. When these have ceased, we shall be able to rest, beneath our vines, our fig-trees and our olives.

Father, Son and Holy Spirit will shelter us as we rest, our peace of mind and body once recovered.

Glory to God the eternal, age after age.

Amen.

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FRIDAY FAVORITES FOR PRAYER AND WRITING

Welcome to Friday Favorites! This week, FF is participating in #WOCwithpens, an effort dedicated to recognizing and highlighting the talented faith-based writing of women of color from around the web. Read more about #WOCwithpens here and join in!

This week’s posts will bless you. They include poetry, essays, and a list of voices to watch for in 2018. Enjoy!

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18 People of Color to Follow in 2018 via Ruthie Johnson (check out this list of great voices that tell us what faith looks like in various communities of color)

Healing From Race-Based Trauma via Sheila Wise Rowe (read this powerful essay in the Redbud Post on soul-care for the journey of healing from race-based traumatic stress; while you’re there, check out the other articles in this month’s Redbud Post on “the holiness of diversity”)

Signs via Natasha Oladokun (an amazing poem published in Image Journal and based on1 Samuel 3:1)

I Am Loved: Nikki Giovanni’s Poems for Kids, Selected and Illustrated by Beloved 94-Year-Old Artist Ashley Bryan via Brain Pickings (a set of Giovanni’s poems brought to life by the vibrant artwork of Ashley Bryan)

How Amazing is Grace via Carolina Hinojosa-Cisneros (a beautiful poem on . . . amazing grace!)

Walking When Stuck, Staying When Free via Dorcas Cheng-Tozun (how God points us toward pathways out of even the toughest of stalemates)

 

 

WEEKLY PRAYER

A prayer from Henri Nouwen:

Help me, O Lord, to let my old self die, to let die the thousand big and small ways in which I am still building up my false self and trying to cling to my false desires. Let me be reborn in you and see through you the world in the right way, so that all my actions, words, thoughts can become a hymn of praise to you.

I need your loving grace to travel on this hard road that leads to the death of my old self and to a new life in and for you. I know and trust that this is the road to freedom.

Lord, dispel my mistrust and help me become a trusting friend.

Amen.

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CONTEMPLATIVE PROFILE: HADEWIJCH OF ANTWERP ON THE WILD LOVE OF GOD

This is our last week exploring the spiritual poetry of the Flemish mystic Hadewijch of Antwerp (13th c.). I’m so taken with how this mystic explores the mysterious and powerful force of love in her poems. Remember that in these poems, love is personified and should be understood as God’s love.

In the first poem, Hadewijch touches on the slow course of love. It reminds us that spiritual maturity is a lifelong process.

Love’s maturity

 

In the beginning Love satisfies us.
When Love first spoke to me of love—
How I laughed at her in return!
But then she made me like the hazel trees,
Which blossom early in the season of darkness,
And bear fruit slowly.

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In the second poem for today, Hadewijch marvels at the fact that God’s love is complete in and of itself. I find the last three lines of this poem incredibly moving.

Knowing Love in herself

 

I do not complain of suffering for Love,
It is right that I should always obey her,
For I can know her only as she is in herself,
Whether she commands in storm or in stillness.
This is a marvel beyond my understanding,
Which fills my whole heart
And makes me stray in a wild desert.

God’s love is a wild thing! May we all go on an endless search, even into the desert, to meet it there.

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WEEKLY PRAYER

A prayer from Mechthild of Magdeburg (ca. 1210 – ca. 1285):

Heavenly Father, thank you for creating me.
Jesus Christ, thank You for saving me.
Holy Spirit, thank You for making me clean.

Holy Trinity—whole and undivided—remember my days
of trusting in You,
and send me a merciful death
that frees me from all worry.

Into Your capable hands I commend my spirit.

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FRIDAY FAVORITES FOR PRAYER AND WRITING

Each Friday I share some of my favorite finds related to praying or writing. If I think it could help you pray or write better, or just “be” better, I’ll include it below.

Do you have someone else’s article or post to share? Join the Contemplative Writers Facebook group, comment on today’s post on my Facebook page, or follow me on Twitter (@LisaKDeam) to nominate your favorite articles, blog posts, and books by Thursday at noon each week.

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How I Met My Inner Ezer: 7 Suggestions for Ditching the Past and Embracing Your Truest Self via Amy R. Buckley (finding the fullest expression of God’s purposes for us)

Blogging Benedict: Sleep with your clothes on via MJ Hos (what we can learn from one commandment in the Rule of St. Benedict)

The Totality Effect: Thoughts for a New Year via Melanie Bishop (on learning to see the phenomenal in everyday life)

Best Spiritual Books of 2017 via Spirituality & Practice (check out this great reading list)

Capturing the Numinous: Mary Karr’s Sacred Carnality via Annelise Jolley (lessons from Karr’s writing on putting the spiritual into words)

I Copied the Routines of Famous Writers and It Sucked via Nick Greene (a long read but very funny on the desperate bid of writers to find a writing routine that works)

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CONTEMPLATIVE PROFILE: HADEWIJCH OF ANTWERP ON LOVE’S TRUTH

Today I bring you another poem form the medieval mystic Hadewijch of Antwerp. In her spiritual love poetry, Hadewijch expresses both the agony and the beauty of serving love, that is, God’s love.

In this excerpt from Poem 28, Hadewijch wrestles with the power of love, which can both destroy and raise up. She also asks the question, what do you do when you just can’t go on, when you’ve reached the end of the road and you can’t love anymore? Read Hadewijch’s poem for her honest take on God’s love.

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For this is love’s truth: she joins two in one being, makes sweet sour, strangers neighbors, and the lowly noble.

 

She makes the healthy sick and the sick healthy; she cripples those who are sound of limb and heals the wounded.

 

To the ignorant she reveals the wide roads they must wander in weariness and teaches them all that shall be learned in the school of highest love.

 

Burning desire is taught in the school of highest love.

 

She confounds the experienced, she brings happiness to the wretched, she makes them lords of all over which love herself holds sway.

 

Of this I am certain beyond all doubt.

 

To those who can serve love no more I give this good advice.

 

Let them still beg for her comfort if they falter and serve her with devotion according to her highest counsel.

 

Let them think how great love’s power is, for only those near to death cannot be healed.

 

They have risen high that have received love’s power, and in that power they shall read her judgment over them.

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For reflection:

Hadewijch - love's truth