Our journey into Lent begins on Wednesday of this week.... 

Ash Wednesday is always an especially busy day for those entrusted with the gift of distributing ashes....chaplains are known to be especially worn out by the end of a day during which they are called from one end of the hospital to another... and often we as chaplains come to wonder what the attraction to ‘ashes’ is!  Staff and family members often flock to the chapel....not to receive Communion...but to “get their ashes”.  In recent years, stories of people dispensing ashes at train stations and other by-ways have intrigued me, and while I personally ‘appreciate’ the experience and find it humbling in a healing...somehow hopeful way, I’m puzzled by those for whom this is the only ‘liturgical’ moment they participate in all year. The reading that we’ll be including in our liturgy of the Word tomorrow from Jan Richardson...and also including in our Ash Wednesday service with our host Congregational/UCC community, perhaps holds a key to the ‘draw’ for those who are otherwise not drawn to Catholic ritual.  Possibly those who puzzle me are among the ones whose heart has been “cracked open” or among those who are “wandering” and somehow finding in the blessing with ashes, a “foothold” or even a “toehold” into a belief that holds them and opens for them a connection which transcends ‘knowing.’.... Whatever it is, may they and each of us be blessed as we prepare to receive and be blessed with ash this coming week. And, may our ‘wandering’ into our upcoming 40 day journey be full and ‘whole.’

Rend Your Heart

A Blessing for Ash Wednesday

To receive this blessing,

all you have to do

is let your heart break.

Let it crack open.

Let it fall apart

so that you can see

its secret chambers,

the hidden spaces

where you have hesitated

to go.

Your entire life

is here, inscribed whole

upon your heart’s walls:

every path taken

or left behind,

every face you turned toward

or turned away,

every word spoken in love

or in rage,

every line of your life

you would prefer to leave

in shadow,

every story that shimmers

with treasures known

and those you have yet

to find.

It could take you days

to wander these rooms.

Forty, at least.

And so let this be

a season for wandering

for trusting the breaking

for tracing the tear

that will return you

to the One who waits

who watches

who works within

the rending

to make your heart


©Jan Richardson

We invite you to wander with The Spirit of Life community during your Lenten journey...and beyond. Come and make us your ‘spiritual home’.  In our community’s midst you will find support for your inner spirit’s growth. We promise you a unique experience of community; one where members and guests find support and hope in the journey through time and body to deepen our spiritual lives, and work together to transcend our limitations and grow in faith. Our liturgies are not “cluttered’ with non-inclusive language and messages that discount the dignity of all people. Rather, we are radically simple in embodying the “good news” of Jesus Christ... “uncluttered” by messages caught in the moral time warp so present in more traditional Catholic liturgies. At the Spirit of life... the call of women to ordained priesthood is affirmed...the sacredness of all loving relationships is honored and celebrated, and as Jesus did, we welcome ALL to the Table!   If you are seeking a Catholic community where you do not need to mentally/silently “insert” inclusive language into your prayer at Mass, or lament that your children are hearing non-loving messages about people whose sexual orientation is other than heterosexual, or feel that your “voice” is not heard.....we invite you to come and experience life in our community. We are an inclusive and interactive community, where everyone has a “voice.”  We are truly a people of “justice & Joy.”

May your heart be open to and nourished by the blessings of this Lenten journey,

Jean & Ron