Thursday, February 26, 2009

Give up...

A Lenten Reflection

Give up complaining——focus on gratitude.
Give up pessimism——become an optimist.
Give up harsh judgments——think kindly thoughts.
Give up worry——trust Divine Providence.
Give up discouragement——be full of hope.
Give up bitterness——turn to forgiveness.
Give up hatred——return good for evil.
Give up negativism——be positive.
Give up anger——be more patient.
Give up pettiness——become mature.
Give up gloom——enjoy the beauty that is all around you.
Give up jealousy——pray for trust.
Give up gossiping——control your tongue.
Give up sin——turn to virtue.
Give up giving up——hang in there!

"The spiritual quest is not for interesting "spiritual experiences" but for the expansion of our capacity for mercy, the opening of our hearts wide enough to embrace the world, and not just the fragments of it, here and there, which at present we manage to feel with and care about." (Martin L. Smith, A Season for the Spirit, p. 27)

I found this poem and I thought it did a great job of showing how we need to give some things up for this season of Lent but how there are so many things we can gain at the same time. The one I wanted to focus on today was "Give up discouragement ---be full of hope". We have been struggling at work lately with the lack of hope some people have for our kids. I think when they started out in the social work field they were very hopeful. But after 10-20 years of seeing kid after kid go through our program and only a few of them "succeeding" in the terms of going to college, not falling back into the same things, etc...those things weigh on you. For me, new to all of this, I have so much hope for them, maybe unrealistic hope, maybe I am just too new to understand, but either way I have hope. It is very discouraging to hear when other people don't have hope for the kids I work with, and honestly overall the world has no hope for them, that is why they are at our agency. Last night at our Ash Wednesday service we gave ashes to the kids that wanted to come up. I got the opportunity to give them out to half of our kids and staff. It was an experience I am still processing, but one that will last a life time with me. As I made the sign of the cross on their foreheads and said to them, "You were made of dust, but because of Christ you will live forever", and saw them in awe of a new ritual of the Church they had never seen, and I took my time to look at each one of their faces. They are my hope. The staff that day after day work with these kids even when they punch them, spit on them, kick them , cuss them out, they still love these kids unconditionally. And our kids who have been through hell but still want to come to Chapel, receive Ashes and praise the God they love so much. Giving ashes was a humbling experience, one that set the tone for Lent. Hope is all around us, and as the quote from A Season of the Spirit, says, these spiritual experiences we will have during Lent, is much more than just an experience but an "expansion of our capacity for mercy, the opening of our hearts wide enough to embrace the world". Open your heart wide enough to embrace the world this season, and be full of hope to share with others.

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