Monday, 9 March 2015

Lent-ward Leaning

I decided to keep giving up working for a living for Lent this year. It's going well. I really like it. The observing a Holy Lent stuff fits: self-examination, penitence, prayer, fasting, almsgiving and reading and meditating on the Word of God. Here's how.

Self-examination

I've done little else since I retired. Feeling it. How is my post parish ministry sabbatical year life serving God, if at all? It just feels so good! And why should I get to enjoy so much goodness when others have had to suffer so for their faith, especially in the Middle East recently? 
     I haven't missed presiding and preaching yet. I appreciate that I got to do it for a time, but retirement feels like a new thing for me. I've entered a new space. It reminds me of the big change from television directing to seminary and ministry in the late 80s. I was grateful for the TV years, but I didn't miss them though seminary and the early parish priest days until one day when I came across a crew shooting something in the foothills south of Calgary, one of whom was a sound guy with whom I used to work. That must have been five or seven years after the change. I felt a pang and a sense of loss, but not for long. Maybe I'm just slow. But I didn't want to go back. 

Penitence

I continue to be a thoroughly competent sinner in retirement. My self-examination reminds me of the selfish motives behind much of what I do and did as a parish priest—ambition, drawing attention to my abilities and talents—the list goes on. I have been reminded of how little I achieved that is measurable. Not that it was nothing. The LORD worked through me and the people I served in ways noticeable and not. So, penitence in retirement means I also, when I look back at what I've done, cannot say more than what Jesus suggested in Luke's gospel: "I am an unworthy servant; I have only done what was my duty" (Luke 17.10)—for some of the time, at least. My boat is so full of goodness, I am also reminded of Peter's words to Jesus, "Go away from me for I am a sinful man." (Luke 5.8)

Prayer

Anglican liturgical prayer in particular. I love leisurely Morning Prayer with Jude and a cup of coffee. I've enjoyed the time to pray Evening Prayer and Night Prayer, too. Rich. Especially this Lent. We've decided to use the traditional language CofE Daily Prayer app. The Canadian Book of Common Prayer was my introduction to Anglican daily prayer back in the 80s. I prayed through it thoroughly. The lectionary, the PRAYERS AND THANKSGIVINGS UPON SEVERAL OCCASIONS, the FORMS OF PRAYER TO BE USED IN FAMILIES. I prayed them all. Systematically. All 46+9 of the PRAYERS AND THANKSGIVINGS. I loved it. As a result, I got to know it pretty well. Praying it again this Lent is reminding me of those days of discovery. 
     The language is a treat. The LORD shews stuff, things are forgat withal, some women are strange, we are a thoroughly froward lot exhibiting all kinds of naughtiness all over the round world. We ought, therefore, and with haste, gat ourselves to the Lord, and that right humbly lest we be minished.
     The words have a certain Lenten grittiness and the liturgy is just as Sister Monica Joan said in Call the Midwife…


…happily clinging still, and that right happily. 

Fasting

Not so much other than on Ash Wednesday so far. Retirement has been more a feast than a fast. 

Almsgiving

Some opportunities. Here's a good one for Lent—or any time of year, for that matter—women in need of obstetric fistula repair. 

Reading and Meditating on the Word of God

My next post, LORD willing…