Getting to Know Your Cup
Dear Kaleid Ladies,
Good morning, and greetings to you on this Ash Wednesday.
Today we begin the season of Lent, a set-apart time within the Church year when we prepare our hearts for Easter. Lent is our way of walking, symbolically, with Jesus in the 40 days of His wilderness journey.
“Practicing Lent” has traditionally involved three spiritual rhythms: fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. In fasting, we connect to our own limits and appetites. In prayer, we connect to God’s presence and power. In almsgiving, we connect to our neighbors and to Christ’s heart to heal the world.
Becoming a person who is well connected to herself, to God, and to others is a lifelong opportunity. Lent helps us foster these powerful connections through physical practices. As we become connected and aware, we are better able to love. Jesus teaches us the challenge and beauty of God’s call to connected love in Matthew 22:36-40 (The Message):
“Teacher, which command in God’s Law is the most important?”
Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”
Lent’s practices (prayer, fasting, and almsgiving) lead us into awareness of and connection to our love for God, self, and others.
Connecting with ourselves is one of the hardest invitations of Lent. Most of us would much rather pray or give something away than fast. We don’t love the idea of connecting with what’s going on underneath our normal patterns of life. If you sense the invitation to fasting this season (or even if you don’t!), consider what gifts are buried underneath the Lenten invitation to know yourself better.
In Can You Drink This Cup? Henri Nouwen maintains that following Jesus--drinking deeply of His cup--begins by holding the “cup” that is our life and becoming familiar with it. This self-awareness is how we connect to the shape of our particular container that is both filled and emptied as we follow Jesus.
Nouwen says, “Holding the cup of life is a hard discipline. We are thirsty people who like to start drinking at once. But we need to restrain our impulse to drink, put both of our hands around the cup, and ask ourselves, “What am I given to drink? What is my cup? Is it safe to drink? Is it good for me? Will it bring me health?...We have to hold our own cup. We have to dare to say: ‘This is my life...it is this life that I have to live…’”
Fasting reveals us to ourselves. We see our appetites - our hunger, our thirst, our emptiness and our need. When we go without, we recognize things that have been obscured by our consumption.
Jesus fasted in the wilderness, alone, reckoning with the tension between His identity as God’s beloved Son and His identity as a hungry, tempted human. So we, too, are invited to a holy wrestling within ourselves during Lent.
What are the tensions God has given you to hold within the cup that is your life?
As you wrestle with brokenness and, in that wrestling, find God there, may you remember again that you are a dearly loved daughter. Mysteriously, in this way, may your connections grow stronger and may your loves be enhanced.
Gentle and gracious blessings on you as you begin your Lenten journey.
The Kaleid Team
P.S. We are grateful to be walking with some of you through Lent on Wednesday mornings, experiencing contemplative prayer together and using Henri Nouwen’s book “Can You Drink the Cup?” as our guide. If you’d like to join us, there’s still time! Register here. And, sign up for our Do Justice Circle (begins March 4) and our Kaleid Retreat (in April) here.
But wait, there’s more!: Here is a list of some Lenten resources from GodSpaceLight; here is a challenging and helpful podcast from Amy Julia Becker with the author of the book Jesus and John Wayne (we mentioned the book a few weeks ago); and, here is a centering contemplative podcast from Aaron Niequist for the week...so many resources to share!