Category Archives: prayer

Lent 2017

dscf0601With today being Ash Wednesday it means that we have now entered the Season of Lent. It is a period of 40 days, not including Sundays, leading up to Easter, and can be seen as a time of reflection and preparation. People observe Lent in may different ways and for a variety of reasons, but it is often seen as a time of giving up or self-denial, although it can also be seen as a time of taking things on. There are lots of resources available in print and online to help people on their journey through Lent. The above three books will be my companions on the journey this year.

The following quote (which I have shared on a number of occasions before) is something I read this morning and is from the introduction to Bread and Wine, one of the books pictured above:

First popularized in the fourth century, Lent is traditionally associated with penitence, fasting, almsgiving, and prayer. It is a time for “giving things up” balanced by “giving to” those in need. Yet whatever else it may be, Lent should never be morose – an annual ordeal during which we begrudgingly forgo a handful of pleasures. Instead, we ought to approach Lent as an opportunity, not a requirement. After all, it is meant to be the church’s springtime, a time when, out of the darkness of sin’s winter, a repentant, empowered people emerges. No wonder one liturgy refers to it as “this joyful season.” (page xvi)

Over the past week or so I have been reflecting on what I would do this year for my own personal observation of Lent. Sometimes it is difficult to come up with things. Previously I have given up things like coffee or meat, but neither of those are part my daily life anymore. After some prayer and consideration I came up with the following:

  • Fast for 12 hours each day following my evening meal. This is something that has become standard for me during Lent for a number of years now. It has been a help in previous years and I’m sure it will continue to be so.
  • Look for the positive in all situations and cultivate a better attitude of gratitude. I tend to be quite negative at times and I also am not always good at demonstrating my gratitude to people, especially in the daily small things that are done for me.
  • Get back to praying the Daily Office. This is something that I have been able to do our the years, but in a more sporadic fashion than I would have liked. I have plenty of resources to help me in this, so I really have little excuse for not being able to do this on a regular basis.

I’ll see how this all goes and, if I can, I may even post a few updates here.

How are you observing Lent this year? Feel free to leave a comment if you like.

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The Year Ahead

tolkien-realityI’m not that big on resolutions, but I like to sit down at the start of the year and set a few personal goals for the year ahead. This is the first time for a few years that I’ve written a post about it, but in doing this it might help me to be more accountable and to actually follow through on them.

2016 was a roller-coaster of a year personally. There were some really great moments, but there were also some times I’d like to forget about. It’s all in the past now, so there’s no point in dwelling on any of it.

So, on to 2017. Here are some of the things I want to work towards:

My health – I had my 50th birthday last year, which hardly seems possible, but it’s true. Most of the time I don’t feel like 50, but there are some things that remind me, although quite often it is those around me who remind me. I have found it harder to keep off the weight in the past year, so one of my health goals is to make sure that I exercise regularly. To do this I’d like to go for a 20-30 minute walk each day. If this is not possible then at least 20-30 minutes on the Wii Fit, either in the morning or the evening. Some days I’d like to even do a combination of both, but I’ll settle for one or the other. The other part of my health I’d like to work more on is my food intake. Being a vegetarian you’d be tempted to think that this wouldn’t be a problem, but I am probably about 20lbs heavier than I need to be. So, I’m working on my food intake and looking at changing some of my eating habits. If I could cut out my evening snacking that would probably be half the battle. At some point I’d like to explore going vegan, but I’m still working through all that this would mean for me.

My family – I moved to Canada almost 23 years ago and in five years time I will have spent half of my life here. It’s not a move that I have ever regretted and life here has been pretty good for the most part. In many ways, I now see myself more as being Canadian than Scottish and would find it hard to ever move back again. One of the downsides of the move has been feeling gradually distanced over time from my family (and friends) on the other side of the Atlantic. I have to admit that I’m not always the best at keeping in touch, so some of the distancing has been my fault as well. I always enjoy my visits back ‘home’, although quite a few of them have been for funerals, which can be kind of bittersweet visits. My goal this year is to make more effort to keep in touch with family and friends overseas. When I first moved over here it was harder to keep in touch, but now with many different means of communication available it should be easier to do so. As well as family over there, I always need to remember that I have my family here as well, so I need to continue to find ways of spending as much quality time with them as well. Our oldest child will probably be heading to University after the summer this year, so we need to make the most of her time at home in the next few moths as well.

My spiritual life – this is an area I’m constantly working on, but I made some personal breakthroughs in 2016 that have helped me move forward in a number of ways. It’s a little personal to share here, but I have shared some of it with those who need to know. For some reason I have started to waken up at no later than 6am each morning, with no need for an alarm. I have started to use extra early time in the morning more wisely and most days I manage to spend 15-30 minutes then developing my spiritual life. Some of what were my core beliefs have been really challenged over the last year or so and this has been a good thing. I’m not as dogmatic in my beliefs as I used to be and I’m finding that my spiritual priorities continue to change for the good. One of the things I really want to try and fit into my schedule this year is a silent retreat of at least 3 days. I’m working on finding something like this that will work for me. Another thing I’d like to work on is a personal rule of life and I have gathered together some tools that will help me develop this.

My working life – for the last few years this has been quite frustrating for me. Most of the time I’m fine with what I do and where I am, but there are times when I’d prefer to be anywhere else doing whatever. Most people probably find this happening to them, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I really need to do something about it. Conversations have taken place and I’ve put in writing some of my hopes, dreams, concerns, and so on, to those who need to know how I feel. I really can’t share here what this means, but am hoping that things become clearer in the year ahead.

My reading life – it would probably be an understatement for me to say that I really like books and reading. Last year, however, I really struggled with my reading and fell quite short of the goals I had set for myself. As I enter 2017 I’m feeling better about my reading. As I write this I’m still working on my reading goals for this year and am working out which reading challenges I want to sign up for. I’ve found a few that really interest me. Once I’ve worked this out I’ll add a tab at the top of this blog with links to the challenges I end up joining. I have a lot of books that I really want to finally get to this year, so I’m looking at challenges that can help me accomplish this. One thing I’d really like to do is to write more reviews of the books I read, even if some are only a paragraph or two.

Blogging – I started my first blog (Once Upon A Time In The North) in 2005 and have kept up some form of blogging ever since, although there have been time when I have posted very little. It’s something I enjoy doing, so I’d like to continue doing this in some form or other. My goal is to post more often, not for the sake of posting, but to try and make it more meaningful in some way or other. I’ll just have to wait and see where it goes, but I hope I can keep it up.

Photography – I enjoy taking pictures, even if at times the results aren’t the best. Over the last few years I’ve tried to maintain a photography blog with varying results. I did manage to complete a 365 type blog for one year, but it became more of a chore than it was worth. I still like the idea of having some kind of photography blog, but I’ll never attempt a 365 again. Instead I’m working on something else that I have referred to one friend as a 365ish blog. Once I’ve worked it out I’ll add a link to it somewhere on this blog. Making sure I have a camera with me wherever I go would be a good start as I work all of this out.

So, these are some of the things I’m working on at the moment. I have a lot of optimism as I move forward into 2017. If you got this far, then congratulations! I hadn’t intended for the post to be this long. If you have any ideas or suggestions as to how I can accomplish any of my goals then feel free to make a comment here or drop me an email. I appreciate the input of others, so any input would be more than welcome.

Happy New Year and may 2017 be a good year for us all.

Lent 2016

Today is Ash Wednesday, which marks the first day of Lent for this year. I was encouraged to find out that our local ministerial hosts a series of Lenten lunches during this time. The first one was today and was a meaningful short time of reflection followed by a light lunch. They will be held in the local United Church each Wednesday at lunchtime up until Easter. Although the location is the same each week, the services are led by different churches each week. Our congregation is responsible for March 2. I’m looking forward to this series of lunches as it is not something that happened in our previous community.

You may ask ‘What is Lent?’ My favourite description of what Lent is comes from the introduction to Bread and Wine, a book I have read a few times during the period of Lent and Easter:

Less-is-MoreFirst popularized in the fourth century, Lent is traditionally associated with penitence, fasting, almsgiving, and prayer. It is a time for “giving things up” balanced by “giving to” those in need. Yet whatever else it may be, Lent should never be morose – an annual ordeal during which we begrudgingly forgo a handful of pleasures. Instead, we ought to approach Lent as an opportunity, not a requirement. After all, it is meant to be the church’s springtime, a time when, out of the darkness of sin’s winter, a repentant, empowered people emerges. No wonder one liturgy refers to it as “this joyful season.” (page xvi)

For some people Lent is a time of giving up, for others it is a time of taking on. I like to embrace both of these things and try to incorporate a bit of both into my Lenten observation. For the past few weeks I’ve been reflecting upon what I would do during Lent this year. After a fair bit of prayer and reflection I’ve come up with the following:

  • Fast for 12 hours each day following my evening meal. This is something that has become standard for me during Lent for a number of years now. It has been a help in previous years and I’m sure it will continue to be so.
  • Give up all bread and related products. I really like bread and have lately come to the realisation that I eat too much of it. A regular day might find me eating a couple of waffles, four or more slices of bread, a bagel, a couple of buns, and so on. I’ve probably gained 20lbs since the fall and I know I am suffering for it. Perhaps abstinence from these things during Lent may help me to break this habit.
  • Work on fulfilling the Renovaré covenant in more meaningful ways. You can find out more about Renovaré HERE. The covenant states: ‘In utter dependence upon Jesus Christ as my ever-living Savior, Teacher, Lord, and Friend, I will seek continual renewal through spiritual exercises, spiritual gifts, and acts of service.’ I signed it a few years ago, but I need to go back and re-examine it and make it a better part of my life.

Last year praying the Daily Office was one of my goals and, for the most part, I’ve kept that up. So, this will continue to be one of my daily goals. Also, last year I endeavoured to put up a daily Lenten post, but it became a burden as Lent progressed. I have decided that it wouldn’t be helpful to try that again this year, but I’ll try to post some periodic posts and updates.

My main daily resource is the Renovaré publication pictured above – Less is More: A Lenten Guide for Personal RenewalI just downloaded a copy of it by donation this evening and am looking forward to getting into it before I sleep tonight. It is still available from the Renovaré website.

Following Easter I will try to post an update of how it all went. If you have any thoughts, Lenten experiences, or ideas you would like to share please feel free to post them in the comments section.

Teaser Tuesdays – With Open Hands (October 27)

teasertuesdays2014eTeaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Here are my teasers for this week:

with open handsThere was a time when silence was normal and a lot of noise disturbed us. But today, noise is the normal fare, and silence – strange as it may seem – has become the disturbance.

From page 34 of With Open Hands by Henri J.M. Nouwen.

Teaser Tuesdays – In Constant Prayer (September 29)

teasertuesdays2014eTeaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Here are my teasers for this week:

in constant prayerAt some point, all of this high-minded discussion about our life of prayer has to work its way into the dailyness of our lives. It has to be stuck in and around and up next to the meetings and the schedules and the packing and the leaving and the coming home of our lives.

At the 50% point of In Constant Prayer by Robert Benson.

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