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Uncluttering the Spirit

Christians have  ritualized the preparation for Easter since the 5th century if not earlier.  The ritual of Ashes originated in the Roman Catholic church, and only much more recently has made its way into protestant christianity.*  (I don’t remember experiencing it in my own life before the late 1980’s.)  What might seem like a small shift of a ritual from Roman Catholic to protestant churches is really indicative of a larger shift in our culture.  The boundaries of the old identity markers are becoming more permeable.  And so, our UCC church takes the ritual of ashes and we use it in our own way to help people connect with the Divine.

Ash Wednesday will offer us the opportunity for a time of uncluttering the spirit during the season of Lent.   We remember once again “…that from which we have come, the beautiful simplicity that lies underneath it all, binding our lives closely to the earth and all creation.  We  acknowledge what has estranged us from the Sacred and turn again to gaze at the deep beauty from which we spring.”(Kristine Zakarison)  Throughout this season we’ll be posing questions related to cleaning out and letting go so we can find our way back to our essence.  We’d love to hear from all of you with comments, photos, and suggestions as we begin.

What gets in the way of you connecting with God?  Is there an everyday item that symbolizes that hindrance/clutter?

*If you want to know more about Ash Wednesday, try this brief article on BeliefNet

One Comment Post a comment
  1. Lynn #

    What gets in the way for me is busyness. Too much busyness. I can remember a time when I was really un-well to the point of hardly being able to get out of bed on some days. So I decided that since I can’t do much else, I might as well pray. So I did, and over the years of my “non-doing” life, I developed and sensed a deep connection with the Divine, in prayer and in everything around me. However, over time I also became well and once again became a “productive member of society”. In my eagerness to be a “normal” person, I jumped back into work and volunteering for worthy causes. Too many, I now see! It makes it difficult to honor that set aside time and to move with enough mindfulness to sense God in life around me.

    Is a TV commercial an “everyday item”? This particular one symbolizes for me how it gets. It’s the one where everyone is moving like clockwork through work, shopping, eating — everything — around and around and around. Then someone, instead of using their debit/credit card to pay for their purchase, instead uses cash. The whole clockwork stuff comes to a grinding halt and everyone stares at the person as it takes “forever” to make the transaction. Then the next person uses their card and everything gets back to happy and “normal” again. The commercial gives you the idea that this is a good thing, but I’m sitting in front of the TV saying, “No! No! Use the cash! Use the cash! Slow down! Take time to look around you with new eyes!!”

    So I’m thinking that “uncluttering the spirit” is a good thing to think about this season of Lent. Turn around and go in a different, mindful, examined direction. And leave some unnecesarry stuff behind as I go.

    February 9, 2010

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