The Lenten Journey and The Path of Transformation

“Remember that thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return”
— Words used on Ash Wednesday for hundreds of years

The ultimate irony of the Lenten Journey is that “it is not about trying at all,
but an ultimate surrendering, dying, and foundational letting go.
You will not do it yourself, but it will be done unto you (Luke 1:38)
by the events of your life.
Such deep allowing is
the most humiliating, sacrificial,
and daily kind of trying!”
— Richard Rohr

These words about dying and dust are difficult and seem to call us down into darkness.

On one level they are unsettling. Much of our ego-selves and our fast-paced, anxiously-driven culture feel threatened. Too often, we prefer to be in denial about death.

But at a deeper, soulful level, we can learn to trust that the words Richard Rohr uses about “surrendering, dying, and foundational willingness to let go” are about a much more meaningful way of being in the world. It is a way centered in grace, love, and compassion. The Lenten journey becomes an extended, intentional practice of being present in our soulful selves and others in a way that can be deeply transforming. In a world in which we are driven by ego strength, willfulness and trying harder, Lent invites us into the deeper way of surrender, letting go (of our ego’s desires) and being willing to make prayerful space to notice that God is constantly calling us into Transformation.

In the 40 days of Lent, we can allow our imagination to be open prayerfully and to join Jesus on the powerful path of compassion. Somehow, if we are willing, God takes us into new depths of our soul and invites us into transformation and new life. It is not mere change, but transformation of our way of seeing and being. If we can let go of our fearful desire to be in control, our awareness is transformed through the power of compassion. It is a way of deep healing and wholeness and a peace that passes understanding.

Here is a video from a year ago when I was interviewed by friends at the Interfaith Center –
I was interviewed by Jay McDaniel, my college professor from 42 years ago (in whose class I met my wife, Rebekah Miles.)
The topic is: “T” is for Transformation

If you want to explore some new, transformative ways to move into, through, and beyond Lent, here are some options to consider:

A. If during your Lenten journey, you are interested in learning about and exploring spiritual direction / guidance, please email me or give me a call. I would be delighted to help you explore your deepest questions and callings. If you choose to schedule a special meeting, it will be intentional, prayerful time to listen for guidance in the Holy Spirit. I have given intentional, individual spiritual guidance to many people over the last 20+ years with people from many different states, but have never offered this in our church specifically during Lent.

B. Also, we are making some changes in our morning groups that meet from 9:30-10:30 am.

In these open groups you can connect with others throughout this Lent. Check out the different options below. You can attend any or all. Invite a friend or relative (or pet) since we meet on zoom! And it’s ok if you join late, leave early, or miss a session. It’s about grace all the way down. Come join other Pilgrims on these Lenten journeys.

1. Mondays 9:30-10:30 am – Reflections on Sunday Services, and Richard Rohr’s Weekly Meditations
https://zoom.fumcfw.org/2
a. In this open group, we will be exploring different topics based on Sunday sermons and services from the day before.
b. We will also be exploring the previous week of meditations by Richard Rohr and friends.

2. Wednesdays 9:30-10:30 am – Pain, Peace & Purpose: Transformation Through Adversity
https://zoom.fumcfw.org/2
This weekly, open group welcomes anyone who desires help with “breathing through pain”… whether current, or learning more from past experiences. We can open inner space for a deeper sense of peace and healing through soulful connection and exploring contemplative practices. Through support and prayer practices, participants can discover blessings of gratitude that encourage us all to live with a deeper purpose. “If we do not transform our pain, we will most assuredly transmit it—usually to those closest to us.” – Fr. Richard Rohr

3. Fridays 9:30-10:30 am – Ways of Wisdom with Krista Tippett and The On Being Project
https://zoom.fumcfw.org/2
Each week will have a different topic. We will listen to an interview of the week, and explore its meaning and how it might be calling to us. In the introduction, Krista Tippett says: “Alongside the very highly publicized narrative of danger and dysfunction and decay, enough of us see that we have a world to remake. We are orienting towards that life-giving possibility. We want to meet what is hard and hurting. We want to rise to what is beautiful and life-giving. We want to do that where we live, and we want to do it walking alongside others.”

4. Tuesdays and Fridays 7:00-8:00 am – Book Study (reading books such as “Mystical Hope” by Cynthia Bourgeault) and the Practice of Centering Prayer
https://zoom.fumcfw.org/2
We will read short passages from the book being explored. Each session, we will take 30 minutes for deep-diving, soulful discussions. After the first 30 minutes, we will begin the shared, silent practice of Centering Prayer. If you are not familiar with Centering Prayer, this is your chance to learn and practice this contemplative experience of prayer that helps deepen hope and experience peace.
Here is an intro.to Centering Prayer: http://www.centeringprayer.com

In all our Groups,
we practice hospitality for the soul.
In the midst of our current challenges,
we take time to listen for wisdom in the Spirit,
and the “safety net” of our interconnection
that is being woven in God.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Grace and Peace,

Dr. Len Delony
Associate Pastor for Spiritual Formation
817-939-4593
LDelony@myfumcfw.org

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