Last week I shared of a wooden cross from the Urakami Cathedral, Nagasaki, Japan – a cross that resided in the Peace Resource Center of Wilmington College since 1982 that survived the atomic bombing of 1945. A cross that was recovered in the ashes of a horrific event – by a marine who understood the symbolism of the cross.
I wonder if Walter the soldier had any idea that one day this cross would be repatriated to its natural home – returned in love, with the hope that humans would understand events like this should never happen again.
This trip was much what the Lenten experience is all about, it was a time of being in the wilderness, where the unexpected was all about me. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that shook my core in an unusual way – yet core-rattling is what walking in the desert is about. We get tired, hot, thirsty, discouraged and just plain worn out, only to discover angels in our midst.
One of the many lessons from the desert experience is that Jesus walks out of this dark and challenging place with hope – he made it. He not only made it, he conquered it!
As a Quaker I am not bound to any particular way to practice Lent, yet I celebrate and honor the traditions of those who do. I like the idea of setting aside time to listen, reflect, learn and pray; something we should do daily anyway, yet I don’t always honor that.
For 40 days I will strive to BE PRESENT to the gift of God that is all around me.
While in Japan I noticed I was very aware of my surroundings because it was unfamiliar territory. I paid close attention to the gift of each moment – I felt God was truly walking alongside me and I was grateful for each little lesson that came my way.
I recorded those moments in a journal, I would encourage you to record your thoughts on these days as well.
For 40 days I will strive to BE GRATEFUL and record areas in my life that bring me joy; joy that springs from the ashes, or joy in my everyday experience.
While in Japan I experienced horrendous heat. It was like walking in a desert, it was truly a gift to find a shade tree to sit under and listen to the sounds that were all around us – what are you grateful for?
For 40 days I will QUIETLY WAIT and listen for God; I will not present a list – but listen for “the still small voice of God”. I Kings 19: 11-12.
I have thought about the Peace Resource Center repatriating the Urakami cross and what that meant for all involved. It was received by worshippers there with joy and a renewed sense of hope for new life to come. It was a time of healing, and a time of forgiveness, a time of reconciliation.
For 40 days I will practice the gift of forgiveness for myself and for others.
What are the ways you are being called to a new way of letting go?
What are the ways I am being called to “Be still and know God”? Psalm 46:10.
Nancy McCormick is Co-Pastor of Chester Friends and Springfield Friends Meetings.