How is it with your Soul?

FullSizeRenderOne of my favorite services is the Renewal of Ordination Vows with your clergy during Holy Week. It is a wonderful time to recommit ourselves to that to which we have been called and to reconnect with colleagues.

My reflection for this year was focused on the question, “How is it with your Soul?” I went on to ponder the idea that as people who are called to shepherd souls, it is critical that we are making sure our own souls are being shepherded. One of the foundational ways for this to take place is to be engaged in spiritual direction. And we are blessed, particularly in the metro area, to have an incredible wealth of spiritual direction options.

I was reminded of this blessing this weekend when I was able to spend some time with Episcopal Spiritual Directors of Minnesota. This is an impressive group of lay and ordained folks who have a wide variety of tenure and yet all have significant wisdom to bring to this journey in soul companionship.

Spiritual direction is, of course, not just for those who are ordained or those in the ‘official’ discernment process. I would suggest that spiritual direction is not only available to, but a wonderful opportunity for, all of us to walk with one another as we deepen our understanding of our own gifts, and how we are being called to use those gifts.

So… how is it with your soul? I encourage you to take a deep look at exploring this question, and perhaps take that additional step to look at the ECMN Spiritual Direction website.

To Wake At Last in Heaven’s Light

Easter Sunday St. Mark's

Photo Credit: Betsy Hsiao, St. Mark’s

I love Easter! And I know exactly why. It’s  the celebratory, hopeful feel of those who gather to proclaim, “Alleluia, the Lord is risen! The Lord is risen indeed!”  In fact, I think that is one of the main reasons Easter Sunday is such a big draw. Sure, I understand that there is a lot of family tradition, and nostalgia. However, I think there is something much deeper that beckons folks who come regularly as well as those who come simply on occasion. It is the life-giving message of hope.

Whether it be challenging personal circumstances or just the dark cloud of the feeling of endless depressing weather, a gathering of pastel-bonnet-wearing-Easter-egg-hunting-alleluia-shouting people just has a way of bringing forth a sense of hopefulness!

“Dying, we live, and are reborn through death’s dark night to endless day: Lord, make us servants of your peace, to wake at last in heaven’s light.” These words are from James Quinn’s hymn Lord, Make Us Servants of Your Peace and are based on the prayer attributed to St. Francis. The message captures for me the soulful transition from despair and death to hope and life.

It is abundantly clear that the world is absolutely starving for a sense of hope. Personal tragedies or world crises loom large and often contribute to a feeling that there is no end in sight. That is where we as Easter people come in. That is the call of those who yet again just witnessed the life-giving message of hope and the new life that comes with it in Jesus’ resurrection.

Our family, our friends, our neighbors, the strangers in the checkout line need the Easter hope we have just witnessed. So please do not hesitate, do not delay – begin sharing it today!

Alleluia, Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed, Alleluia!

The Holy Week Journey

FullSizeRenderIt’s dark and cold, and the trail is coated in snow and ice. I had ventured out because neither man nor beast could take being cooped up any longer. For what felt like an eternity, the much loved Dakota trail that runs behind our house had been unfit for walking our dog. Yet the calendar said spring… and from where I could see on my perch, it looked like patches were beginning to clear on the trail. “I’m going to give it a shot,” I thought.

Within minutes I was slipping and sliding, and it became abundantly clear that my once excited pooch was wanting to retreat back to the warmth of our home. Entering my house I had an initial feeling of disappointment… maybe winter was going to last forever. And as I was shedding my layers of thick clothing, I oddly began to feel a sense of accomplishment. Sure it was not the wonderful walk that both my dog and I had hoped for, but we did venture out for a small walk and that was more than we had done in a long time. And all of this made me feel hopeful that soon the long, dark days would diminish, and with that a brighter, warmer sun would begin to melt the snow and ice on our pathway.

My walk through Holy Week often has similar dynamics. I begin Palm Sunday with such high expectations fueled by childhood memories of processing around the outside of the church. And then, more often than not, it is pouring rain and the procession has to change direction to an inside route. Maundy Thursday shortly follows and I am filled with warmth, watching loved ones wash each other’s feet. As the service begins to come to a close, and the sanctuary is stripped empty, my soul often feels the same. Good Friday comes and I always appreciate moving through the Stations of the Cross, but at the end of the journey, my heart always feels very heavy. Holy Saturday arrives and anticipation begins to mount. The journey of the last few days feels dark and empty. And yet, I also feel a sense of accomplishment that the hardest part is over and light is coming.

And I can’t help but begin to hum one of my favorite hymns:

I want to walk as a child of the light;
I want to follow Jesus.
God set the stars to give light to the world;
The star of my life is Jesus.

In him there is no darkness at all;
The night and the day are both alike.
The Lamb is the light of the city of God.
Shine in my heart, Lord Jesus.
I want to see the brightness of God;
I want to look at Jesus.
Clear Sun of Righteousness, shine on my path
And show me the way to the Father.

I’m looking for the coming of Christ;
I want to be with Jesus.
When we have run with patience the race,
We shall know the joy of Jesus. (Kathleen Thomerson)

May you have a blessed Holy Week journey.