Dear Friends,

 We hope that you are safe and well.

 Today's Meditation comes to us from Joan Chittister who invites us to Feed Our Inner Monk.

 We invite you to join us as we commit ourselves to working tirelessly to end systemic and structural racism in our society, in the church, in healthcare, in the workplace--wherever it shows up so that everyone may come to have more abundant life. May this meditation nourish our contemplative-active hearts and sustain all of us in action.

In the spirit of our philosophy of co-creating community and our awareness that the Spirit speaks through each of us, we invite you to share your meditations with us as well. We truly believe that it is God's economy of abundance: when we share our blessings, our thoughts, our feelings, we are all made richer.

We hope and pray that you find peace, healing, hope and the infusion of joy in your life!

With our love and care,

Ron and Jean

Lenten Meditations Ash Wednesday In every one of us there is a secret impulse: For some it is the drive to succeed. For others it is the drive to find security here where security is most fragile. For most of us, there is the compelling desire to become the best of what we are good at. But in many, in the deep subterranean level of life, is the quiet awareness that there is more than any of those. For many of us, the completion of life lies in finding within ourselves the sense of wholeness, of enoughness, of fullness. We desire to reach, not simply the alps of life, but the summit of the self, the encounter with the God within. That is the inner monk in each of us calling to be nurtured and sustained. This Lent let us, together, give this inner monk focused attention and care.

Lent is the preparation period of the Christian year that gets so easily lost. Few people really know what to do with it. Some know that it has something to do with giving things up, of sacrificing the good things of life in order to make up for our natural weaknesses. And yet, that’s not the purpose of Lent at all. Lent is the one period of the church year that is really all about us. Each of us. Alone. Personally. No, it’s not about a series of actions that takes us down into the center of our heavy-laden lives or our uncomfortable souls. We are not enjoined to say the Stations of the Cross or give up sweets or go to church more often. We’re not expected to go through weeks of concern about the errant state of our souls.

Lent is the time of year when the Church tells us to take a deep breath and begin to taste the gifts of life once more, the parts of life that bring the inner monk in each of us alive. Lent gives us the space we need to refresh our hearts and quiet our souls in expectation of beginning again to live life well. We’re meant to become conscious of our blessings, to savor the goodness of the God who is with us always, who carries us beyond ourselves, who is our strength and our support through all the seeds and undergrowth of life.

The Rule of Benedict, that 1500-year-old guide-rail upon which the entire Order of St. Benedict has been based, offers perhaps Lent’s clearest definition. Benedict of Nursia does not talk about “giving up” things just in the name of giving them up. On the contrary. Benedict teaches us to add things to our lives that are missing but deeply needed if our inner lives are to grow and guide us through all the twists and turns of life. We need the kind of good reading that nourishes our contemplation of God’s presence here and now. It faces us with the realities of life and, the Rule says, will carry us through whatever dark days await us in life. We need to take the kind of time that allows us to sink into an awareness of the Presence of God even now, even here, that will give us new courage for the mysteries of life. We need the quiet it takes to contemplate the important things of life, to refuse to allow excess in anything to drown us, to become aware again of the beauty of life everywhere so that no interruptions, no darkness along life’s uneven paths, can defeat us.

Lent raises the fullness of the beautiful in us at the thought of the resurrection of God in our hearts. Then our inner monk will lead us into the center of a renewed sense of life’s gifts as well as its challenges. Then we will have the inner insight and outer courage it takes to trust that every day of our lives is meant to be a good one.

Whatever form it takes. for Your Inner Monk: Lent 2022 by Joan Chittister Let’s Share Our Thoughts The following prompts are meant to help you reflect more deeply on these Lenten meditations for Ash Wednesday. You may do so as a personal practice or gather a group interested in sharing this Lenten spiritual journey.

  1. 1. Have you ever thought about your “inner monk?” What, if anything does the concept mean to you? Write a journal entry to your “inner monk” explaining how this Lent you plan to become better acquainted.
  2. 2. What does Lent mean to you? Do you observe it? If so, how? Has your understanding of Lent changed over the years? Explain. Did any of Sister Joan’s statements about Lent give you pause? If so, which ones and why?
  3. 3. Following the Rule of St. Benedict, how might you structure your time in order to practice reading more, praying more and reflecting more this Lent?