It began with an early morning trip, one with a dappling of spontaneity, to a secret beach adorned with shiny shards of broken glass softened by the pull and the dawn of the tides. This treasure was left to be discovered by three friends with pails on a seeking mission while taking a break from routine and over reaching ruminations of the tough side of life. Actually, these two girlfriends of mine were on a mission to help me get through a very tough anniversary date. I couldn't have asked for a better gift. Their love and understand AND a beach full of sparkling glass destined to be an art project of some kind!
Not only was it the anniversary of my marriage break up, it was the first day of Lent. Ash Wednesday. Timely this Lenten season was this year. In order to be by the shore when the tides were at their lowest, we left home before the sun was up and made it to our destination, after a non stop jabbery car journey, at 7 am. We were greeted by two white tailed deer gracefully standing by a clump of trees that hung close to the water. Peaceful beauty. Like a wink from God.
I had made the decision earlier to experience the momentum of Lent for the first time. I had never allowed myself to take it on fully. Always more comfortable standing on the outskirts of commiting to the formality of religion, I found myself this year with a desire to embrace it. I guess that happens naturally when one finds themselves into the routine of attending church services regularly throughout the year. My curiosity was piqued. My sense of connection with a congretion was growing along with my desire to take a step closer into the circle of this community propelled me towards tasting the mystery of Lent.
Ash Wednesday began along the Bay of Fundy shoreline inhaling the salt air, feeling the cold icy glare of the water, collecting the glass shards that held marine stories. It was a morning I will not forget for a long time. It filled me with kindred love, fresh air thoughts, a sense of adventure and one or two incredible moments that literally took my breath away.
I am a water girl.............. healing happens by the shoreline. So does the regeneration of my creativity. So does the re-clarification of my thoughts and feelings. So does the reflection of my life and where it may be headed. It happens like an instantaneous miracle.
Lent. Over the years, I have acknowledged it briefly with only the basic understanding of its symbolic meaning and reverential mystery. On the surface, it always appeared to me as a dour and daunting day....... the beginning of giving up something meaningful in my life. Of suffering. To give up was our human attempt to feel the suffering that Jesus experienced. But, how can one really meet that level of suffering?
My first immersion. I was eager. It has always felt that I was sitting on the sidelines observing and half listening because it seemed too dauntingly religious. Only the fully committed folks with unrattled faith seemed to take it on. Or so I thought. Until I sat amongst a congregation who were invited to attend the service as a means to re-commit to "the" journey. That hit home. I was looking for a way to re-establish my footing again after a winter of reaching new heights and slipping down into dark crevices. I wanted to seek some kind of balance but didn't really have any structure or parameters to make it happen. It was given to me as a gift.
After a gorgeous day at the beach, sharing lunch in a great diner, sipping on wine late in the afternoon as our way to stretch the holiday feel of the day, I headed to church to take part in the Ash Wednesday evening service. Nothing could've prepared me for the beautiful intimacy, the divine feeling of connections and the spiritual presence that floated in and around everyone who attended. This small group of independent pilgrims, all there for their own reasons, for their own curiosity, for their own desire to recommit to the journey were privileged to be a part of a service which literally left me grounded and determined to commit to being present for the whole season of Lent.
The day began along the shoreline collecting beach glass and old pieces of pottery.........gifts with stories from the mysterious deepness of the ocean floor. The day ended grounded in entering a story as eternal as the tides that pull and dawn every single day. Yes, I recommited to a journey of faith that excited as well as intrigued me. My steps were less tentative, and were very different than any other steps I had taken in the past.
I left this magical service with new thinking as well as a decision to push the sorrowful walls of the past and the anxious walls of the future back in order to allow the space to live in the here and now with more breath and depth. Lent was going to be a journey of the unknown........... but one draped in the stories as old as the hills.
To be continued...................