Reflection Masthead
Issue 103 - A Pretense-Free Lent - March 2014

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Honest Protest,

Honest Complaint

Walter Brueggemann Need for Lament (Psalms) 

Walter Brueggemann talks about the value of the Psalms of Lament in the life of faith

Past Issues


2-Creating Sacred Space

3-Leaving Footprints


5-Ordered Life

76-Vanier Visit

83-Becoming Who You Are

87-Wondrous Fear, Holy Awe

91-Crater Lake

93-Image of Heaven



96-Reveal Your Mercies


98-Pilgrim Soul

99-Your Book, Your Verse


101-On Reflections 

102-Morning Moments

Link to all past issues  

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 We're Being Honest Here


"How are you today, Nancy?" I asked. It was during a coffee-hour, after worship a number of years ago. "I'm fine," she answered. Knowing that she was going through a divorce, and facing other challenges as well, I responded, "Are things really OK?"

She blinked, then answered, "Oh - We're being honest here!" She then proceeded to tell me how she really was.

Flannery O'Connor once said: "I come from a family where the only emotion respectable to show is irritation." I thought of Nancy when I read O'Connor's words this week. I also thought of my own family of origin. And I thought of many churches, where being respectable is valued more highly than being honest.

Lent is not a season for polishing our fa´┐Żade, or putting our best foot forward. Lent is a season for being honest with ourselves: honest about our weaknesses and our fears; honest about our hopes and our desires. Lent is also a season for being honest with God

Praying the psalms - which express the gamut of human emotions Book of Psalms from fear to joy, from grief and anger to praise and exultation - can help us. As Kathleen Norris writes, "the earthy honesty of the psalms ... defeat[s] our tendency to try to be holy without being human first." She goes on to say, "The psalms make us uncomfortable because they don't allow us to deny either the depth of our pain or possibility of its transformation into praise."

So spend some time with the psalms this Lent. Don't leave out the angry parts. Pray them aloud, write your own paraphrases, allow the images to lead you to the depths of your own heart. After all, we're being honest here.

                --by Bill





Honesty and Good Nature

                                                                 --by Jan 

          Anyone my age and older might recall a brown book, front and back covers tied with a brown twine, titled: Leaves of Gold. It is an anthology of prayers, memorable phrases, and inspirational verse and prose. Ours is the 1947, 12th printing edition. Underlines and parentheses mark the wisdom that my Daddy unrelentingly held dear. Here is one: "All other knowledge is hurtful to him who has not honesty and good nature. - Montaigne."

          Someone said that an unexamined life is not worth living. But perhaps it is more difficult to be honest with ourselves since it's easier to see others' faults rather than our own.  During this Lenten Season we are called to make an honest evaluation of our lives. I noticed in the Express-News that a downtown Catholic Church will be open for confession round the clock Saturday, in response to Pope Frances' call worldwide to "24 hours for the Lord" this weekend. Regardless of one's religious conviction, many people admit that an honest examination and telling of one's faults is extremely healing and freeing.

          People in Twelve Step programs answer a similar call. Step 4: To make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. Step 5: Admit to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.  As Spiritual Director, I am sometimes the "another human being" who listens. After the 'confession' I always witness in the Directee an incredible sense of peace and a released-from-bondage-freedom, the kind of freedom which opens the space for the person to forgive others and to reach out to others in compassion - with honesty and good nature.

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Sincerely,  Bill Howden & Jan Davis
Soul Windows Ministries