On a Quest for a Personal Lenten Journey

lent_desktopAs a young boy, living in the South Philadelphia suburb of Tinicum Township, I spent a good deal of time at St. John’s Lutheran Church serving as an acolyte.

I loved being an acolyte.  We got to wear robes like the clergy; we got to light the candles with a super cool lighter/extinguisher thing; we got to assist in the distribution of the communion elements; and, the coolest thing of all got to ring the church bells!  I can barely put it into words how important being an acolyte was to me at that time.

When I was nine years old, we moved to New Jersey and my parents left the Lutheran tradition behind.  After a few years with a non-denominational, community church, our family settled itself in with the local Church of Christ– an evangelical, fundamentalist tradition born out of the restoration movement.

To say the very least, the Churches of Christ disagree with the worship practices of the mainline denominations, and my services as an acolyte were not needed in my new church home.  This secretly broke my heart, but I lived to accept the fact that things were going to be different.  The old ways of my young faith were to be set aside, and I would simply have to learn the new ways of God, which were actually the old ways of God.

Confused yet?  Yeah, so was I.

My maternal Grandmother, who lived across the street from us in that South Philly, suburban row home, continued on with her faithful participation in the Lutheran tradition, and, because of and with her, I secretly kept some of the traditions of her faith in my own practices.  A very significant practice for me (not every year, I’ll admit) was the practice of observing Lent.

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What I remember about my observance of Lent was that it began 40 days prior to Easter and that I had to give up something; that was about it.

As I grew older into adulthood, I pretty much gave up the practice entirely.  I don’t have the time to give up anything.  I’m good without it.  Besides, I don’t worship that way, anymore.

About fifteen years ago, I re-examined my faith and was led to a different way of seeing God, faith, and religious practice.  I now identify as a Christian who worships in the United Methodist tradition, and Lent and Easter once again play a very significant role in the practice of my faith.

This year, in an effort to grow, I determined to seek out a Lenten journey that was more personal for me than giving up caffeine, which has become my go-to item to chuck.  This year I thought that instead of giving something up, I would seek to find something to do, a path to walk that would bring me closer to God and my fellow humankind.

I was led to the House For All Sinners And Saints, where I felt invited and called by God to participate in this Lenten practice.

Whether you’re a Christian or not, whether you believe in God in your own way or reject the notion of God altogether, no matter where you are on your journey in this life, I want you to know that I am going to participate in this Lenten practice as a way to lift you up.

I don’t need you to be like me, to worship like me, to practice a religion like me.  What I do need you to know is that you are so much more than you can ever imagine, more valuable than you can ever realize, and loved beyond all measure.

During the Lenten season as many around the world reflect on where they are in relationship to God, I want you to know that you are as close to God as the air you breathe.  God is never away from you and you are never away from God.

You are loved and cherished by God because you are God’s beloved creation.  You are loved and cherished by God because you were created. Period. You are worthy because you are God’s beloved child—redeemed and whole and brilliant.

During this Lenten season, I want you to know you are loved, and I will try my best to show it.

I wish you peace!

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I’M A FAN FRIDAYS

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Hello, friends and welcome back to I’m a Fan Fridays!

I got to doing this every week a while back, and I’m excited to start doing it again. It is really something I love doing–sharing a great performance or a moment that really altered me. It is what the arts do at their very best.

For our first Friday back after a long time away, I want to share with you someone I know you are just going to be in awe of and fall head over heals for.

It is truly a rare occasion when one can say they were alive when the “greatest there ever was” at something is living among them. We can all say that about this individual.

I first saw Chris Thile play the mandolin with his two “Nickle Creek” bandmates at the Pennsylvania Folk Festival in 2001. I surprised Malisa with tickets, and we had the most wonderful day. Arlo Guthrie closed the show that night, but after those kids burned down that stage, there wasn’t much left for old Arlo to do.

Chris Thile is the greatest mandolin player I have ever heard. His range is unreal. He’s not only an amazing virtuoso in any style, he is also a very gifted singer/songwriter.

Today, I’m going to give you a two-for-the-price-of-one type deal. To show both Chris’s range as well as his singing and songwriting ability, I’m bringing in two different examples.

The first is a glorious interpretation of a Bach work for violin (the mandolin and violin are tuned identically, though obviously require two completely different techniques) and the second is an original song Chris has played as an encore for his solo concerts but plays here on the radio show “Prarie Home Companion,” which he is currently hosting every Saturday night.

If you enjoy his work as much as I do. Share away!  ENJOY!!

A MAN AND HIS DOG

LATE WINTER AFTERNOON

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WATSON: Can you turn the channel? Pleeeease?

ME: You change it! The clicker’s right under your left paw.

WATSON: Come on, man! Caesar is going to be on in, like, two minutes.

ME: Caesar Romero? They doing a BATMAN marathon on Cartoon Network or something?

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WATSON: No…the “other” Caesar.

ME: That’s just hurtful. Now you can definitely change the channel yourself because you know I’M not changing it!

WATSON: I never said you weren’t a good trainer. I just wonder sometimes…

ME: I wonder if he’s going to take you for a walk, today? hmmmMM!?!? If he doesn’t, I guess you won’t be going out.

WATSON: You wouldn’t!!

ME: Wouldn’t I? Who’s your daddy, now?

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EVERYONE GETS TO SEE THE WIZARD!!!

img_3261Hello, my friends!

Welcome back if you’ve been to my blog before and welcome to you if you have found my site for the first time. It looks a little different, but it’s the same platform.

And you can still find all of my back posts. The function is the same. I just changed a font or two and painted the place.

I figured, why not change it up?

Today is significant–if only in the sense of this blog–because I am picking up where I got lost, and I’m hopeful to turn this space here into something that brings about thoughts and feelings of introspection, appreciation, a bit of madness, and sheer joy for anyone who visits.

You are always welcome here.

I think one of the things that slowed me down with this blog was wanting to post more but not feeling as though I had that much to say. I also felt as though every post had to be a full article.

Going forward, I’ve decided to post a minimum of three times a week. The days will ALWAYS be Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, but not necessarily ONLY those days. Each day will have a theme to it.

On Monday, the theme is Why I Stay. I have been taking stock of the things I find that give my life purpose. I keep choosing to stay around because my life force continues to call me to do more, to get on the road and get some work done! I want to share with you what my road looks like. As I go along, I want to leave markers where you all are in case I find myself so utterly lost, as I once was.

The format of Monday’s post will be an article from me about something that I’m working on at that moment in life. On several occasions, I will be writing about my own experiences struggling with theology, artistic difficulties, and mental illness.

But it won’t all be fun and games. Once in a while, I just might throw in a killer recipe for orange scones or an article on how to shave your armpits while skiing! I could get crazy!

Wednesday’s theme is A Man and His Dog. Here is where my best pal, Watson and I give you a peek into our daily lives. You’ll get a weekly conversation and pictures and stuff that will hopefuly brighten up your day.

WATSON: “Hopefully” has two ‘Ls’, mate.

ME: Oh, right! Shoot! Why didn’t you tell me?

WATSON: You never let me read your work!

ME: You’ll eat it!

WATSON: That’s true. Yes. I will eat it.

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On Friday, I’m bringing back something I really loved doing, before. The theme is, I’m a Fan Fridays. This post will consist usually of a video from YouTube or something else astounding with a brief introduction above it about why it moved me. I believe with all my heart in the transformation that is inevitable with an audience member when they come into contact with the performing and visual arts.

I want to share with you experiences I have had with the performing and visual arts that altered me. The kinds of experiences that you know while you’re having them are changing you forever from that moment.

People say there is no such thing as perfect, but I will go to my grave insisting that there are perfect moments.

I hope you will find it as fun, silly, serious, and irreverent as I intend for it to be. If you like a post, share away!! If you want to comment, please join in! I want you to feel as welcome here as you can possibly feel.

I truly appreciate you and hope you will always know that you matter a great deal to me.

Peace to you