A Lent reflection from Anne Dodd in Abingdon:
Our kitchen window sill this morning. The as-yet – apparently- empty flower pot is where I have planted the sunflower seeds that were sent in advance to those taking part in the online Pax Christi Ash Wednesday liturgy. The symbolic action of planting the seeds was a very meaningful ending to the service. I will follow their progress on the window sill carefully until I can plant them out in the garden.
A Lent reflection from Anne O’Conner
NEW BEGINNINGS – A JOURNEY FROM LENT TO EASTER
For the past few years I’ve produced a Lent reflection leaflet continuing a format started by Bryan Halson during our time together on the former Shrewsbury Diocesan Justice and Peace Commission. This year Lent takes on a new meaning for me following the death from natural causes of my beloved elder daughter Annie in June 2020. For Advent 2020 I put together a series of weekly reflections based on her writings as a scripture scholar, teacher and evangelist.
For Lent this year I am sharing some more of her material as we journey through Lent towards Easter.
I’ve been looking at C S Lewis’ classic The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe whilst helping home-school our 9 year-old granddaughter during the latest lockdown. It seems apposite in the current situation to identify with a bleak land where it is ‘always winter but never Christmas.’ At present it feels as though we are existing in a continual season of Lent, an enforced time of fasting and abstinence from so many of the ordinary pleasures we take for granted: visiting family and
friends or new places, going to a film or out for a meal, enjoying a day out to the coast or the countryside. We wait, sometimes with impatience, for the time to move forward to Easter and the joy of the Resurrection. We are locked in a period of stasis, of stagnation. There is frustration and fear. Will our lives ever be the same again? But we can choose to embrace this enforced isolation as an opportunity to quieten ourselves, to truly listen to God and discern a new way
forward. We can use this time wisely to consider changes to our lifestyle that will help conserve the fast-diminishing natural resources of our planet, to live more simply and to work for the good of all. This is an opportunity to focus on what really matters and to journey in faith and hope.
NOTE: The scripture verses used are selected from each day’s readings, the reflections are taken from Annie’s writings
A Lent reflection from Patricia Pulham
I have always felt that ash can be seen not only the result of destruction and death but can also be a valuable and fertile material for growth. Just think of the slopes of volcanos where people grow crops for the population around, so it was so very suitable that our Ash Wednesday Witness this year reflected both these elements. From the sadness and death that had been caused by the Corona virus came the opportunity to mark Ash Wednesday in a no less meaningful way.
Following the usual Liturgy, we made a virtual pilgrimage round the Ministry of Defence, aided by pictures of last year’s Witness. Participants had gathered material to use at home so that we could all feel we were taking part, not just observers.
We used soil to mark ourselves with the Sign of the Cross, and this was blessed, together with water. We had each written the name of victims of the nuclear weapons programme to remember and pray for, and by dipping our finger in the water and soil, could write the word “Repent” for the sin of our nation’s nuclear policy.
The final act of our Liturgy was the planting of the seeds we had been sent, in the blessed soil, sprinkling them with the water. When they bloom later in the summer, they will remind us to rejoice in the beauty of the Creation, and to thank our Saviour for all we have experienced reflecting His love.
We couldn’t have believed that this year’s Ash Wednesday Witness could so reflect our usual commemoration outside the Ministry of Defence in London. However, by using similar materials and following the familiar Liturgy, we felt we were there again. The images of this centre of nuclear weapons policy and the opportunity both to mark ourselves with “the dust of the earth” and to look forward to the Resurrection by planting seeds to symbolise new life was a moving and fitting start to the season of Lent. We are so grateful to all those who made it possible.
A Lent reflection from Joan Sharples
‘I can help spread the message of nonviolence by …’ was the starter we were given for a Pax Christi nonviolence zoom marking the Days of Nonviolence last September. Completing the sentence was a challenge – what with the quiet home-based lives we were leading. And then my daughter’s words came into my head, ‘Oh mum, you’re always so negative’. Negative and cynical speech can do violence, at personal and even at national and international level.
My efforts to curb my negativity weren’t likely to have much effect on international relations, but in the last few months, I have spent less time moaning to friends and family about the minor – very minor, for me – privations of lockdown. I have been stretched in others ways. Trying to recognise the positive in the people and situations I encounter, means I can’t fall back into my default ‘I can’t do that’ when asked to do something out of my comfort zone.
Eschewing my regular crime fiction diet, I’ve included reading that will ‘grow’ my practice of nonviolence. Advancing Nonviolence and Just Peace in the Church and the World, Pope Francis’ Fratelli Tutti, David Olusoga’s Black and British haveall expanded my horizons – and in positive and challenging ways.
I suppose it’s all about giving the Life-Giving God space in the depths of my prayer: waiting on God, the Source of life, of nonviolence – and getting on with my everyday life – whilst ever being alert to what might be. ‘Do what you are doing’ as Dorothy Day once advised.
So, how will you respond? ‘I can help spread the message of nonviolence by …’
Alistair McIntosh and Matt Carmichael Spiritual Activism page 24