Whale Spouts - March 2018

Lenten blessings to you, my dear friends...

It may surprise you to learn that Sundays are not a part of the 40 days of Lent. Sundays are always considered to be a celebration of the resurrection - a "mini-Easter" if you will - regardless of the liturgical season. We are a resurrection people who celebrate the hope and joy of Easter right in the midst of desert temptations, betrayals and suffering.  I find it especially powerful to remember that both joy and struggle are companions with me along the way.  

This edition of Whale Spouts offers several reflections that I hope you find meaningful as you remember this sacred balance of life and death on your journey through Lent...
*    Contemplate This - The Blessing of a Joyful Death
*   Poem for the Season -  The Heart:  It's Language
*   #ColorYourLent - It's not to late to join the eCourse
The cold, dark days of winter are beginning to fade and spring is just around the corner. Thanks be to God!  :-) 

Pastor Sharon
Founder & Director
Contemplate This: 
The Blessing of a Joyful Death

Make a joyful noise all the earth, break forth into joyous song and sing praises.  Psalm 98:4 

"My hope is to have a joyful death."  That was my dad's response when asked by the palliative care nurse what his hopes were for this final chapter of his life.   In our culture that idolizes youth and fights death at every turn, his response is a beautiful anomaly.  Certainly, none of us wishes to hasten the arrival of our own final days. And, sadly death all too often comes suddenly and/or violently with no chance for reflection. However, if given the opportunity when it is our time, how will we choose to face the end of our earthly life? 
Our usual response is simply not to talk about it; to pretend that we aren't all a step closer to death with each and every breath.  However, my dad's response has been just the opposite.  As has always been his style, he wants to talk about it.  He has asked to talk with each member of our family alone - a chance to openly and honestly explore the language of our hearts.  Together we listen, laugh, cry, sit silently and fumble for words.  Through these conversations about his upcoming death, my dad is gifting us with an even deeper appreciation of what it means to be fully alive.  
May we all experience the gift of both a joyful life and a joyful death - not as a denial of the very real struggles and sorrows that are an integral part of our earthly journey, but as a conscious decision to choose joy over sorrow, hope over despair and resurrection over death.   As we continue the journey through Lent toward Easter Sunday, may we face the trials of our lives with resurrection joy in our hearts.   Thanks, Dad, for the reminder... 

Poem for the Season
The Heart: Its Language
Do you know the language of the heart,
my heart, your heart, thy heart,
his heart, her heart, their heart,
our great heart, 
when it speaks,
really speaks?

I don't.

Each speaks in its own, own voice
which changes to each hearer, each telling.

That's how I give my messages to you, 

That's how I get my messages from you,

It's you,
and me,
in the world .

Ain't that something!

Leonard H. Seyfarth 
Note:  I made this recording of my dad reading his poem during one of our Thursday morning breakfasts together at Joe's diner last year.  "Sunny" in the poem is my mom, his wife of 53 years.  Enjoy!  
Upper Room eCourse 

Vibrant colors, beautiful designs, soothing sounds - these may not be the elements that normally remind you of Lent. But what if your Lenten journey this year included sensory-rich experiences of being with God on purpose?  Join us for the eCourse edition of Praying with Mandalas:  A Colorful, Contemplative Practice scheduled especially for Lent 2018. Praying with Mandalas guides us in combining the relaxing practice of coloring with the ancient spiritual disciplines of lectio divina, intercessory prayer, centering prayer, and the Examen.  

For this special Lenten version of the online course, we will follow this calendar.

Feb 14 - Ash Wednesday, Being with God on Purpose
Feb. 18 - Lectio Divina, Praying with Scripture
Feb. 25 - Intercessory Prayer, Praying with Others
March 4 - Centering Prayer, Praying in Stillness
March 11- Ignatian Examen, Praying through Everyday Life
March 18 - Diving Deeper, Exploring the Prayer of your choice
March 25 - Reflection, Finding Your Belly of the Whale
April 1 - Celebrating the Joy of Resurrection

Enroll alone and meet new friends online.  Or, enroll with a group and share the journey with friends you know.

I will be responding regularly to participant comments during this Lenten experience.  All course material can be completed as you're able on your own schedule.

For more information or to enroll,  CLICK HERE.

Belly of the Whale Spiritual Direction & Retreat Ministries
Rev. Sharon Seyfarth Garner, Director
216-224-7452 | Email | Website
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