Every year, Forward Movement offers a devotional for Lent. This year’s was edited by Rachel Jones.
I had the chance to look at an early copy of this book. I’m 100% committed to The Good Book Club this Lent and Easter… AND YET. Wow, this book is amazing. The writers within it share stories and experiences I would never know without reading their words. Those stories open my eyes and my heart to the work of God in the world in important and necessary ways.
Here’s an excerpt from Catherine Meeks’s week of devotions:
This photograph represents my work leading pilgrimages to historic lynching sites in the American South.
This particular photo features me (on the left), Bishop Rob Wright of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, and one of the pilgrims. On this day, we were visiting the Jonathan Daniels Remembrance Site in Hayneville, Alabama. Our pilgrimage through these sites is about bearing witness to these places, speaking the names of the martyrs who died there, and praying for the perpetrators of these crimes. Our hope is that we can learn from and with each other about racism, violence, and how we can live more fully into the beloved community to which Jesus calls us. These are holy acts of reconciliation and peacemaking…
As an Arkansas sharecropper’s daughter who rose before the sun in order to watch it come up over the nearby trees, I had no idea what it meant to be a pilgrim. But I was destined to be one.
Her words are powerful and couldn’t be more timely.
Another extraordinary witness comes from Jeffrey Queen, who writes about a time he was so gravely ill with an infection, his arm was almost amputated to save his life:
That night in the hospital, I was not alone. My wife was with me—holding my hand in comfort, determined to find a way through suffering into healing and wholeness. The deacon was there, carrying the prayers of the entire parish, joining them with her own. Jesus was there with me that night, just as he is when anyone suffers, bringing healing and hope. Mary was there with me, too. As I prayed the Angelus in the ICU, I saw Mary standing before me. I promised her that if I recovered, I would seek her out and give thanks for her assistance in Jesus’ healing of my body… The next morning, the doctors were more optimistic than they had been the night before. The antibiotics finally seemed to be working. It looked as if I would not lose my arm to the infection, after all.
He goes on to describe his experience as a pilgrim to Walsingham to visit a shrine of the Holy Mother of God, and the lessons he learned as a pilgrim on that journey.
Another author is Teresa Pasquale Mateus. She describes her experience as a pilgrim on a portion of the Camino in Spain despite the pain of chronic illness:
One of the critical elements on the Camino—or along any journey—is the baggage we carry. We come with our internal baggage in our hearts and our external baggage on our backs. Pilgrims learn very quickly that as we wrestle to walk with the internal weight of our feelings, we are also forced to address external weight, especially if we plan to make it all the way to Santiago, or Rome, or Jerusalem, or down the block.
As I walk the Camino, each night I go through a ritualistic process of purging and releasing that which I don’t need to carry. This happens for almost every pilgrim on the path. Hostel floors and guesthouse common rooms are lined with the stuff we all brought but realize we don’t need for the journey. There’s so much we don’t need for the journey but are convinced that we do! There’s so much we can release, let go, throw away—extra stuff that doesn’t serve us and weighs us down.
A short review of this book makes me realize I have a lot to learn from every author included within it. I can’t summarize it well enough to do it justice, and it isn’t fair to try. Each author has insights worth sharing. The only way I’ll learn them is to include Are We There Yet? in my Lenten devotions. Suddenly it seems like a great idea to read both Holy Scripture with the Good Book Club and Are We There Yet?
Lent 2018 is shaping up well so far… easy to say when it is still two weeks away!
What are your plans for this Lent?