Following Shrove Tuesday yesterday, today is Ash Wednesday, the official first day of Lent during the Christian year and the prelude to Easter. Lent represents the 40 days that Jesus Christ spent in the wilderness, fasting and contemplating his mission on earth. Known as the ‘Day of Ashes’ because of the practice of having ash rubbed & drawn on the forehead in the shape of a cross (representing Christ’s crucifixion), by a priest at the dedicated Ash Wednesday church service. The priest and participants from the church congregation intone the phrase either the words:-
“Repent, and believe in the Gospel”or the dictum “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
Anglican,Catholic and most Protestant and Christians hold Ash Wednesday services around the world. Following the service, participants observe some sort of fasting,abstinence and spiritual contemplation for 40 Days, ending on Maundy Thursday in 2018.
The practice of using ash comes from the 11th Century and is taken from the Biblical Book of Daniel, where ashes are regarded as a sign of Penance & fasting. The ashes are normally made by the burning of palm crosses. These palm crosses were handed out to church congregations during the previous year’s Palm Sunday service (commemorating Christ’s entry into Jerusalem to crowds waving palm leaves in celebration) and given back to the priest shortly before Ash Wednesday. The priest will then burn the crosses and mix the ash normally with Holy Oil to sanctify and make a ‘paste’ with which to rub on the participant’s forehead.
I found this prayer/poem in a book called Poetry Please!
Apparently, it is a traditional Native American funeral reading of the Ishi people from the Pacific Northwest.
I love it, it is so short and poignant and yet it says so much. It makes a positive out of a negative outlook to death and bereavement. It tells the people left behind to move on with their lives after the briefest of mourning.
Traditional Native American Prayer
When I am dead
Cry for me a little
Think of me sometimes
But not too much.
Think of me now and again
As I was in life
At some moments it’s pleasant to recall
But not for long.
Leave me in peace
And I shall leave you in peace
And while you live
Let your thoughts be with the living.
Sometimes we overlook what is naturally beautiful, what should really be important to us.
We have forgotten the little things that can make us happy and healthier. We would rather sit down in front of the computer or television to be entertained, when there is a vast world out there waiting to be explored.
Go out and smell the roses. Admire what God had created. Feel the wind as it gently embraces and cools you down. Inhale; exhale!
Slow down and notice.
“Slow me down, Lord!”
Below is some sort of prayer, which is a good reminder why we should slow down and take stock.
“Slow me down, Lord!
Ease the pounding of my heart
By the quieting of my mind.
Steady my hurried pace
With a vision of the eternal reach of time.
Amidst the confusion of my day,
The calmness of the everlasting hills.
Break the tensions of my nerves
With the soothing music of the singing streams
That live in my memory.
Help me to know
The magical restoring power of sleep.
Teach me the art
Of taking minute vacations of slowing down
to look at a flower;
to chat with an old friend or make a new one;
to pat a stray dog;
to watch a spider build a web;
to smile at a child;
or to read a few lines from a good book.
Remind me each day
That the race is not always to the swift;
That there is more to life than increasing its speed.
Let me look upward
Into the branches of the towering oak
And know that it grew great and strong
Because it grew slowly and well.
Slow me down, Lord,
And inspire me to send my roots deep
Into the soil of life’s enduring values
That I may grow toward the stars
Of my greater destiny.”
– ORIN L CRAIN
sunset at Manila Bay, photo by PH Morton
spider in web
Photo by PH Morton
Photo by PH Morton
Calm is the basis of right perception and understanding.
– Thich Nhat Hanh
Her conception of God was certainly not orthodox. She felt towards Him as she might have towards a glorified sanitary engineer; and in some of her speculations she seems hardly to distinguish between the Deity and the Drains.
– Lytton Strachey
Florence Nightingale – Lady of the lamp
Florence Nightingale – known as the Lady of the Lamp – was the pioneer of proper nursing. She worked selflessly and tirelessly as a young nurse during the Crimean War. She campaigned for clean up in filthy army field hospital thereby dramatically slashing death of wounded soldiers from typhoid and cholera between 1854 – 1856.
Florence had a favourite prayer which comes from the end of Plato’s Phaedrus.
“Give me beauty in the inward soul, and may the outward and inward man be at one.”