Well, I am kind of behind on my Lent ‘word-a-day’ practice but that is often the nature of any spiritual practice. Some days, weeks, years, a person can be so faithful to the process and then…boom…said person is not. Most often there are very good reasons for falling of the wagon, so to speak, and I am going to claim that my own fall was driven by important and good tasks that kept me from sitting down to wrestle with the daily word offered to me by RethinkChurch.org. Mostly it was the distractions of daily life which is most often the case, isn’t it?
Today I am going to combine yesterday’s word ‘celebrate’ with today’s word ‘thirst’ because, for me, they are lining up together nicely. ‘Celebrate’ has been the consistent word offered up for Sundays in this practice and serves as a reminder that the days of worship in Lent are meant to be a kind of oasis from what has traditionally been a time of sacrifice and penitence. That is the thought though maybe not the reality.
Yesterday, I was in a mood to celebrate given the fabulous stroke of weather we had had on Saturday. Nearly 60 degrees in Minnesota in February! But my heart of celebration came from the fact that I was still basking in the afterglow of having attended a program with author Parker Palmer and singer/songwriter Carrie Newcomer on Saturday afternoon. I was still wearing their wisdom, creativity and good spirit like a colorful Easter bonnet. It was such a relief to hear gentle, kind and gracious words flowing from their mouths, words that sought to bind the audience together in hope and a pursuit of the common good. Words like: ” Democracy is a non-stop experiment in the strengths and weaknesses of our political institutions, local communities, and the human heart — and its outcome can never be taken for granted. The experiment is endless, unless we blow up the lab, and the explosives to do the job are found within us. But so also is the heart’s alchemy that can turn suffering into compassion, conflict into community, and tension into energy for creativity amid democracy’s demands.”
I had a great ‘thirst’ that had grown within me for this kind of wisdom, for this kind of creative, thoughtful thinking that opens the heart to what is best within us rather than picking at the scab of a real or fabricated wound that serves to frighten and divide. Palmer’s words caused my heart to celebrate the goodness and the power of what it means to be human, made in the image of all that is Holy, and gifted with possibility beyond imagining. His fine words woven together with Newcomer’s sweet and yet fierce lyrics made for a thirst-quenching for the soul. If you do not know either of their writing, I commend them both to you as a balm for these times in which we live.
Celebrations are often relegated to special days…birthdays, anniversaries. But there is much to be celebrated in the sheer kindness of a word well chosen and the sweet sound of a song offered with a full and grateful heart. In a song Newcomer has written about a local diner, she sings: “Here we are all in one place…The wants and wounds of the human race…Despair and hope sit face to face…When you come in from the cold.” And isn’t it so? Most of us hold despair and hope in our outstretched hands simultaneously. We long for someone to come along who will help tip the balance toward the hopeful hand.
On Saturday that happened for me. In the presence of these two fine people and the others around me who were caught up in the great spirit of their words and music, we loosened our grip on despair and allowed hope to be our loving companion. Our thirsty hearts and souls were refreshed and there was a renewal of spirit once again.
It was…and is…a cause to celebrate.