Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wilderness Yearning: Wednesday in the First Week of Lent

February 29, 2012

Remember you word to your servant,
   because you have given me hope.
This is my comfort in my trouble, 

   that your promise gives me life.    Psalm 119:49-50

When is it meditation and when is it just mind-wandering? This question arrests my attention as I try once more to discipline my self into prayer.

My soul drifts this morning as it meandered through the night. My disjointed waking troubled me back from a wilderness terrain of streams and rivers, shockingly strong currents and ice-flows. Adventure and beauty and danger.

As a child I spent hours playing in and around the creek that ran near our house. Exploring. Climbing trees. Trying to discover the secret of skipping stones as deftly as my older brother. In that pine-scented wood I discovered solitude and solace, and the wanderer’s restless pleasure.

The river of my dreams last night was alluring and treacherous; and somehow necessary. Now I again prepare for travel.

I allow my mind to wander the crevices of my life, gathering flat stones to skip hopefully across the day.

copyright © Anne E. Kitch 2012

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Wilderness Yearning: Tuesday in the First Week of Lent

February 28, 2012
So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the long robe with sleeves that he wore; and they took him and threw him into a pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it.
Genesis 37:23-24

I almost forgot about the poem.

I approached the day as if it were any other. I set about my tasks and routines, and nothing seemed amiss. But the next thing I know, I am confronted with desolation.

This pit is empty. There is no water in it. Where is life in this?

Then I remember the poem. This Lent, for my journey to discover unanticipated life in the desert, I have chosen to read a poem each day. My text is River Flow, a collection of work by poet David Whyte. Today’s offering is The Winter of Listening:

     what disturbs
     and then nourishes
     has everything
     we need.

The day is empty; there is no water in it. It has everything I need.

River Flow. What an apt title.

copyright © Anne E. Kitch 2012 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Wilderness Yearning: Monday in the First Week of Lent

February 27, 2012

I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind— so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 1:4-5, 7

I wake with the evocative tones running through my head.  I recognize the tune as a hymn or sacred song, but I cannot place it or bring the words to mind. The somewhat plaintive yet lovely melody of the refrain will not leave me. But no words.  If I can recall a few words or a line, I know I can search it out.

As I begin my morning ablutions and prayers, the melody persists. Words approach the bright spot of my consciousness, only to recede when I focus my attention on them. But one or two keep floating to the surface. Mercy. Loving kindness. Justice.

Finally it comes:

     There is a longing in our hearts, O Lord,
     for you to reveal yourself to us.
     There is a longing in our hearts for love
     we only find in you, our God.  (words and music, Anne Quigley)

And I realize it is this longing that woke me. I embrace the ache, this yearning offered as a spiritual gift for my day.

copyright © Anne E. Kitch 2012

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Wilderness Yearning: Saturday after Ash Wednesday

February 25, 2012

Not that I am referring to being in need; for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. Philippians 4:11

I don’t even look at the menu, because I have already decided on enchiladas verdes. It is my favorite dish here. But it has taken me a while to understand this.

There is nothing special about this place. The serviceable tables are covered with predictable plastic and arranged with no thought toward any particular ambience. The restaurant itself occupies a liminal space on the border between commercial and residential.

My family understood long before I did that the food was excellent. But I was discontent.  Always wishing the tiny eatery was somehow better, I would scan the menu as if making a different choice would change things. But what needed changing was not anything on the menu.

One day I was caught up short. Instead of looking for richness elsewhere, I discovered the treasure in front of me. I have yet to enjoy a better green salsa anywhere, no matter how fancy the place.

I take my first tangy bite, savoring the blend of sharp, sweet and spicy. Savoring contentment. Opening myself to the possibility that there might be other ordinary places in my life that offer richness I have overlooked.

copyright © Anne E. Kitch 2012

Wilderness Yearning: Friday after Ash Wednesday

February 24, 2012

Harden not your hearts as your forbears did in the wilderness. Psalm 95:8

In the early morning, the desert life materializes as a text. My phone announces its advent with a gentle buzz. I see the sender’s name first, and already my heart warms but then the message appears with unexpected beauty. Not words but an image.

Traversing miles and cellular networks the hibiscus unfurls its pink and white amidst astonishing green. Life in the wilderness of my morning struggles.

In the afternoon, it is the subject line of an email that heralds grace. Like tendrils pushing through late winter soil these gifts of life might have gone unregarded if I had chosen to place my focus on the rocks strewn in the path of my day, if I had chosen to harden my heart.

In the wilderness I can choose to soften my heart. Sometimes I forget this.

copyright © Anne E. Kitch 2012

Wilderness Yearning: Thursday after Ash Wednesday

February 23, 2012

Be still before the Lord,
and wait patiently for him.
  Psalm 37:7

The coins for the parking meter are already in one hand as I reach to open the car door. Yet, I pause. Arrested in the moment of moving on to the next thing, I first realize how good it feels to stop. Then I recognize where I am. A thin place.

In that odd half an hour before I need to pick up my daughter, I had thought to run an errand. There was just enough time, maybe, if I kept moving.
But with my hand still on the door I feel the pull of the thin place, a moment, an invitation to enter into the sacred. I let go of the coins, the door, the errand. The silence deepens around me. Outside my car I hear the crows call, see the mother with swift and impatient efficiency usher three kids into a car, sense the failing warmth of the late afternoon sun. In my car I give myself to rest, reflection, tranquility.

I idly wonder if I will be content sitting here in my car for the full half hour. Hitching a ride with that thought comes an edginess and I stir too soon, yearning for the stillness even as I put my car in gear and move on.

copyright © Anne E. Kitch 2012

Wilderness Yearning: Ash Wednesday

February 22,  2012

I spread out my hands to you
my soul gasps to you like a thirsty land.
Psalm 143:6

I yearn for the desert this Lent. I am ready to enter it. I expect to find water in the dry and barren land.

In years past I have often clung to the bleakness of the season, plumbing the depths of emptiness and desolation. As I was born on Ash Wednesday, I have claimed an inborn affinity for melancholy introspection. I have been all for soul searching, ready to traverse the darkest terrain, knowing I would emerge into the light of the resurrection.

But now I take a different path. I will traverse the desert again, but this time I will notice life along the way. Abundant life. Cleverly devised life. Desert life. The beginning day of Lent a half-century ago was not barren. New life came. My life came.

God formed the first human creature from the dust of the ground. Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return. Remember what God can do with dust.

copyright © Anne E. Kitch 2012