Lenten Reflection – February 29, 2012
–by Cathy Clasper-Torch
In thinking about how best to share today, I felt that both word-reflection and musical-reflection would be most appropriate. My hope is that each of the three reflections will offer you some food for thought, and music for meditation on the words.
The Ash Wednesday service last week is one of my favorite services, as well as the Maundy Thursday Tennebrae service. I love the somber quality to them, and feel like God’s mystery and wonder are particularly present in these services.
During the Ash Wednesday communion, Rebecca invited us to remember those who have passed away, and to hold them in the circle with us. I held my dear father in my mind’s eye. Dad passed away in October, a gentle passing through what I think of as the Lent of his last days & years. I thanked God for the richness of his life and his faith journey, which led our family to live in extraordinary places such as Burma (Myanmah), Berkeley, CA, and Hong Kong, and to absorb those cultures deep into our own beings. I feel my father’s presence so trongly in my life, and the very fabric of my being.
Around the Ash Wednesday communion table, I also held our dear nephew Rafael in my heart, as he passed away this December, in the prime of his life, after a long and valiant battle with cancer.
I’d like to offer this first musical reflection as a remembrance of all our departed loved ones, and to give thanks for the blessing of their lives. This first reading, from the Tao Te Ching was one of my Dad’s favorites, as he grew into his years. The word TAO, is interestingly enough often the Chinese word translation for the New Testament Christian word “Way” or “Logos”.
“Each Being in the universe returns to the common source, returns to the source of serenity. When you realize where you come from you naturally become free from worry, amazed, kindhearted as a grandmother, dignified as a king. Immersed in the wonder of the TAO, the Way, you can deal with whatever life brings you. And when death comes, you are ready.”
Lent is a time of preparation, and journey. Jesus went into the desert to fast and pray. Lent also invites us into a time of reflection and prayer.
Some of you know that I recently finished a solo cd project I’d been working on for a few years. The process involved a lot of prayer, practice and reflection. The cd came out a month before my Dad died, and I was so grateful that he was able to hear it, as so much of my own spiritual journey reflected in the music was given to me by him. Though the cd is all instrumental, “words” played a big part in helping give shape to the whole project; most especially the words of the mystic poet Rumi, which seemed to tie my thoughts together.
Jelaluddin Rumi was born in the year 1207, in Afghanistan, which was then part of the Persian empire.He was a Sufi, which is the mystical sect that comes out of the Muslim tradition. For the 2nd reflection, I would like to read his poem which I entitled my cd “Here Between” after. This poem is called, “With You Here Between”. The music will be played on the instrument called the “erhu”—a two-stringed, traditional Chinese folk fiddle, which I learned when I lived in Hong Kong during my high school years.
“LOVERS WORK, SO THAT WHEN BODY AND SOUL ARE NO LONGER TOGETHER, THEIR LOVING WILL BE FREE. WASH IN WISDOM-WATER, SO YOU WILL HAVE NO REGRETS ABOUT THE TIME HERE. LOVE IS THE VITAL CORE OF THE SOUL, AND OF ALL YOU SEE, ONLY LOVE IS INFINITE. YOUR NON-EXISTENCE BEFORE YOU WERE BORN IS THE SKY IN THE EAST. YOUR DEATH IS THE WESTERN HORIZON, WITH YOU HERE BETWEEN. THE WAY (the Tao, the Logos) LEADS NEITHER EAST NOR WEST, BUT IN.
SAY THIS POEM IN YOUR CHEST. DON’T WORRY HOW IT SOUNDS GOING THROUGH YOUR MOUTH…”
So, as we make our way through Lent, we walk towards the cross, AND the resurrection ahead. We hold them both, at once. From the time we are born (our creation, as depicted in the east transept windows of our church) to our death (the western window’s depiction of the Heavenly City) we are on a journey with our lord, we walking the Way/the Tao of the Cross.
Our last reading is also from Rumi. He writes, “THERE IS ONE THING IN THIS WORLD WHICH YOU MUST NEVER FORGET TO DO. IF YOU FORGET EVERYTHING ELSE AND NOT THIS, THERE IS NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT. THE ONE THING YOU MUST DO, IS REMEMBER THE DEEP ROOT OF YOUR BEING, THE PRESENCE OF YOUR LORD. GIVE YOUR LIFE TO THE ONE WHO ALREADY OWNS YOUR BREATH AND YOUR MOMENTS.”
When Jesus was bearing the utmost pain and suffering humans can imagine, on the cross, he cried out, “My God, my God!! Why have you FORSAKEN me?!” Then, with his last breath, Jesus say, “FATHER, INTO YOUR HANDS I COMMEND MY SPIRIT.”
Grant us the presence of mind, O Creator/Redeemer/Sustainer, to REMEMBER THE ONE THING, as we journey through this Lenten season, the deep root of our being, your presence within us always, and to remember that our life is in your gentle and loving hands.
VIOLIN SOLO/REFLECTION “Be Thou My Vision”