On the Sunday before Ash Wednesday the pastor of the parish where I had a conversion experience, and got married would place a banner in a treasure chest where it would live until the Easter Vigil. Lent is a time of reflecting, changing, growing, becoming closer to God. It’s one of my favorite seasons of the year. Not so much for the sacrifices, though those are good. But for the way we are encouraged to examine our lives, become more vulnerable before the Lord and one another, peeling back the layers we build up to protect our self.
It’s not easy giving up the Hallelujah. Because then I hear every single song that joyously proclaims Hallelujah. For a Catholic woman who tries to give this up it’s hard, so, so hard. Giving up the Hallelujah for Lent allows us to become more mindful of its meaning in our life. That’s part of the point of giving up something we love, and that brings us pleasure during Lent, to become more mindful of it’s meaning, and sometimes it’s great power in our life. Giving up sweets during Lent is a good thing, for they do bring a certain pleasure to our daily life. The spiritual bonus: releasing the power of this thing, giving it back to the Creator, and developing a greater joy in that gift.
Giving something up is good, however careful consideration needs to be given to what we replace that time with. In recent years I’ve added more spiritual reading rather than giving something up. But see, I’m kind of missing the point. Actually most of us are missing the point of giving something up. We do the first part in the giving up, but not the second in filling that time up with something that will draw us closer to God. That then is the key to the emptiness that happens when we simply give something up. When that void isn’t filled with prayer, reading, gratitude we lose, give up, that opportunity to offer this sacrifice for someone in need, to truly become vulnerable before God, to be kinder, to grow.
I’m reminded of the comment that a friend made during a mini-group session a few years ago, “Teri, you’re hiding your quilting.” She was right of course, with intricate black quilting on black fabric. By taking most of that quilting out, and using color on the black background both the color and quilting became important components on the quilt. Since that time it’s been the decorative stitching that has been primarily important. In the last few months I’ve been piecing a bit more. First for a project that now lives in a drawer until it speaks. And more recently on a top that needs one more border then done. The process of piecing has reminded me to be attentive to what I’m doing, how I’m working through the process.
These are great reminders as both the living of faith and quilting are full of process. As we practice both we become more proficient at living them both out. There is more than one way to live out a life of faith, and more than one way to quilt. As a Catholic with some practice and discipline I’d make a fairly good contemplative, ordering the thoughts in my mind toward God and neighbor, considering the depths of faith. I’m deeply drawn to this prayer of St. Ignatius of Loyola
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.
As a quilter I’m enjoying both the disciple of piecing, and the freedom of free-motion quilting. It all works together for the Glory of God.
So this Sunday is the last time we sing the “Hallelujah” before the Gospel. And I’m still pondering Lent, knowing/trusting the process.