Tag Archive | lenten season


In today’s reading of “The Monastic Way” Joan Chittister, OSB, said, “The attitude we bring to every day will determine the character and quality of that day.”

For me, that’s a timely statement to read on a Monday morning. That’s when I look ahead to everything on my calendar for the week and everything on my to-do list, as I try to plan my week. That’s a task that really needs to be done with a positive attitude.

starry skyChittister continued today’s reading by quoting Oscar Wilde, “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”

As I look at my calendar for the week I see three significant days coming up – Ash Wednesday, Valentine’s Day, and a “play day.” Regardless of what’s on my to-do list, this should be a very special week. I can see “the stars.”

Last year before Ash Wednesday I took a dozen hymnals down from the shelf and played through all the Lent sections to remind myself of the wonderful church music that has been written for the Season of Lent. I created a songbook consisting of 83 of my favorites from among these hymns and gospel songs and named it, “Songs about the Love of God.” I’m going to add the following item to my to-do list for this week – play through “Songs about the Love of God.” I expect I’ll keep that item on my to-do list for the next six weeks – not because I won’t get it done, but because I’ll want to keep doing it.

Valentines DayValentine’s Day was one of my favorite holidays when I was in grade school. Every year we decorated a great big box and set it on a table in the front of the classroom. On Valentine’s Day, everyone brought valentines for all their classmates and dropped them into the box. In the afternoon we had a Valentine’s party with cake, cookies, and candy. A few students were selected to distribute the cards from the box. We all opened our cards, and then I realized that every single classmate really liked me enough to give me a card. I guess everyone in the class realized that. It probably helped that our teacher had sent a list of classmate names home with us the week before. I remember going through that list and selecting just which valentine I wanted to give to each kid.

Valentine Candy BoxIn addition to the party in school, another thing that made Valentine’s Day extra special was that my brother and I pooled our money to buy our mom a beautiful, heart-shaped box of chocolates – which, of course, she shared with us. I have lots of happy memories of Valentine’s Day.

“Play Day” is something new that Mim and I have started doing a few times a year, when it looks like we both may be having a completely open day on our calendars. Since we started doing assisted living in our home over ten years ago, we are responsible for care giving 24/7. To give ourselves a break, we occasionally schedule at least a six-hour stretch that someone else will be caring for our residents so that we can “play.” That may be going out for lunch, seeing a movie, or shopping for fun (not just for groceries). From 9:00 to 3:00 this Friday is our planned “play day.”

This should be quite a week! In many ways, a mid-winter gift from God.

One more thought to share. Yesterday I read the book, “Great Quotes from Great Women” (compiled by Peggy Anderson, published by Simple Truths, LLC, ©2010). One quote stayed in my mind, and it relates to both attitude and God’s love, apparently the themes on my mind this week. Mother Teresa said,

I am a pencil in the hand of a writing God 

who is sending a love letter to the world.

That quote is packed with meaning. It provides an image that I am going to try hard to remember for Ash Wednesday and for Valentine’s Day, and for many other days, especially days when I need to see the big picture of life, and to think about how I fit into it.


Work and Reward

I did it! I survived last week! Once a year I have a week filled with something I hate to do – accounting. Throughout the other 51 weeks of the year, I simply put all receipts, invoices, and any other papers that look important for tax reasons into file folders, one for each month. Then comes the one awful week every year, usually in February or March, when I tell myself I can’t do anything fun until I “do the accounting” for the year.

“Doing the accounting” entails entering hundreds of transactions into QuickBooks, reviewing the preliminary numbers that the computer cranks out, looking for things that don’t seem reasonable, hunting through the house for papers that must have escaped being filed and that could be anywhere, and finally getting everything organized enough to give to a real accountant who will prepare final financial statements for our businesses and calculate and file our taxes for us.

It’s done. The mess of papers is organized. We met with our accountant and turned over our records Friday afternoon. Now I can get back to doing the fun stuff. That’s my reward for suffering last week. I actually started doing fun stuff yesterday afternoon. This week, instead of my desk being covered by receipts and invoices, it is covered with hymnals and songbooks. Much better!

My first “fun” project is to remind myself of all the wonderful music that has been created over the centuries to help us turn closer to God during the Lenten season (February 22 through April 7 this year).  Why am I doing that? Mainly because I want to, but I have a couple other reasons, too.

First, Joan Gunderman is preparing another E-Retreat that Whispering Winds will be offering throughout Lent. She has asked me to prepare some of the reflections, making use of some of the musical resources that are particularly meaningful during Lent. I’ll share more information about the E-Retreat next week.

Second, Whispering Winds will be holding its first quarterly hymn sing of 2012 on March 18 (the third Sunday of the third month of the quarter at 3:00). I want to prepare a songbook, similar to what we had for our Christmas Carol Sing. My plan is to include five sections: traditional hymns, spirituals, gospel songs, contemporary songs, and possibly a few secular songs, as well. (After all, the hymn sing is the day after St. Patrick’s Day!)

My first step in preparing for both the E-Retreat and the Hymn Sing is to remind myself of all the wonderful music out there for Lent – “there” being in hymnals, songbooks, hymn story books, and the Internet. What fun! Imagine yourself sitting in the back of a Lutheran Church, listening to the congregation sing every song in the Lent section of their hymnal. Then picture yourself sitting in an African American Baptist Church, listening to that congregation sing all the songs in the Lent section of their hymnal. Then imagine yourself in Methodist, Presbyterian, Catholic, Pentecostal, and contemporary-style non-denominational churches. That’s what I get to imagine this week. To help my imagination, I’ll sit at the piano with all those hymnals and songbooks, and play through every song. Then I’ll search for some of my favorites on YouTube. This is going to be a fun week! My reward for living through last week.

I’ve already found a new treasure, “He Looked beyond My Fault” (text by Dottie Rambo, copyright 1968 by John T. Benson Publishing Company).  The tune is Londonderry Aire (“Danny Boy”). I discovered it in the African American Heritage Hymnal (GIA Publications,  2001). Here are the words.

Amazing grace shall always be my song of praise,
For it was grace that bought my liberty;
I do not know just why Christ came to love me so,
He looked beyond my fault and saw my need.
I shall forever lift mine eyes to Calvary,
To view the cross where Jesus died for me;
How marvelous the grace that caught my falling soul,
He looked beyond my fault and saw my need.

In case you have a hard time imagining how that sounds, here’s a link to a YouTube video I found of a choir singing it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xt_ETF0Pccc.

Hope you have a wonderful week, too!