Even though spring starts this month, there is still a lot of winter left for the Adirondacks. We sometimes get our biggest dumps of snow in March. But the days are getting longer, the sun’s rays are getting stronger, and with the lengthening of the days there is hope for more warmth to come. In our Interspiritual Meditation course we have been covering the 7 steps of meditation and the second step is: May I (we) be grateful. A lot has been written about gratitude. Brother David Stiendl-Rast said: “The root of joy is gratefulness…It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.” He is an expert on gratitude, so maybe I can smile and look at the falling, blowing, blindingly white snow outside my window and be joyful. It is beautiful, right? Blanketing the ground, doing what snow does, it is not good or bad, it just is. Gratitude contrasts with all these thoughts of judgment that humans often have about one thing being good and another thing being bad. Judging takes away our joy, because it is difficult to be grateful for something we don’t approve of.
This week we celebrated Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. We took the palms we’d been saving all year, the ones that we were handed on Palm Sunday when we heard the story of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and we burnt them (let them cool) and wear them on our foreheads as a reminder of many things. Some people remember how they were not true to their calling, others remember their unworthiness and some remember their mortality. We hear the words you are but dust and to dust you shall return. (Oh did you see the joke on the internet ‘you are butt dust?’ Sorry, couldn’t help myself). Anyway, some people make commitments for Lent, to do something, or to give up something. I used to try to give up chocolate, but that never worked, then I heard about fair trade chocolate, and I try, as much as possible, to make sure that my baking chocolate is fair trade. That is a commitment that I try to make all year. I was at one church recently where they handed out garbage bags and were asking their congregants to put one item a day into the bag to give to charity. I’ve also heard of doing the same thing with putting a food item in the bag each day.
Some people support a charitable organization for Lent. Others make commitments to mediate, spend more time in prayer, etc. I was thinking it would be a good practice to just say no to those styrofoam takeout containers. So many businesses already have gone to biodegradable packages, so when you’re at a restaurant you can ask for what kind of containers they have before you ask for a box, or bring your own. That would help in many ways. There are so many opportunities to do good, to raise consciousness, to bring more light and joy into the world.
At Weaving Home, we are celebrating Lent by participating in movement and meditation, reading the book “The Wisdom Jesus” by Cynthia Bourgeault and practicing Interspiritual Meditation. We are also supporting earth care initiatives. We have post cards from Interfaith Power and Light calling for legislation to make the planet a safe and healthy place for everyone. If you'd like one, let us know. Please check out the many links to each care organizations on the website. I am very grateful to all these organizations for their good works.