Monday, February 11, 2013

Lenten Practice: The Desert

Last year during Lent I preached a series of sermons on spiritual practices.  I think that they were well-received, but then: THUNK.
It wasn't for some weeks, maybe months, that I realized that I had introduced the unfamiliar concept of spiritual practice to my congregation without offering them any concrete, practical advice on how to implement any such thing in their own lives.
(I often find that matters that seem clear to me are . . . not so much to others.  This applies to all kinds of things, including where one should store the vacuum cleaner.)
So, this year: a reprise, with practical suggestions and a handout each week.
My first thought was to send them off with an idea for an hour's attentive solitude to try once during the week, but a pastor friend told me, No.  Too much. 
And then I remembered how often I suggest to people who are just embarking on a new life of contemplative prayer that they give it three minutes a day, while they're brushing their teeth in the morning.  Most of us complain, when we try to get serious about contemplation, that we don't have time, that we can't catch a break, that we are endlessly distracted ~ but we all have to brush our teeth, right?  So choose a topic ~ gratitude, say ~ and ponder that while you brush.  It's a start.
I'm trying something of the same approach with my congregation.  Every week, a handout inserted in the bulletin, with images and quotes and suggestions for three ten-minute periods of prayer, to do whenever they want during the following week.
This week's topic is Practicing the Desert.  The handout's finished; I'll include it here in bits and pieces over the next few days.
Image: Sossusvlei Dune, Namib Desert  ~ Wikipedia.


  1. What a great idea. I look forward to seeing those bits and snippets appear.

  2. Even the impractical needs a practical approach!