One day an out of work mime is visiting the zoo and attempting to earn some money as a street performer. Unfortunately, as soon as he starts to draw a crowd, the zookeeper grabs him and drags him into his office.
The zookeeper explains to the mime that the zoo’s most popular attraction, a gorilla, has died suddenly. The keeper fears that attendance at the zoo will fall off. He offers the mime a job to dress up as the gorilla until they can get another one. The mime accepts.
So the next morning the mime puts on the gorilla suit and enters the cage before a crowd comes. He discovers that it’s a great job. He can sleep all he wants, play and make fun of people and he draws bigger crowds than he ever did as a mime. However, eventually the crowds tire of him and he gets bored just swinging on tires.
He begins to notice that the people are paying more attention to the lion in the cage next to his. Not wanting to lose the attention of his audience, he climbs to the top of his cage, crawls across a partition, and dangles from the top to the lion’s cage. Of course, this makes the lion furious, but the crowd loves it.
At the end of the day the zookeeper comes and gives the mime a raise for being such a good attraction as a gorilla. Well, this goes on for some time, the mime keeps taunting the lion, the crowds grow larger, and his salary keeps going up.
Then one terrible day when he is dangling over the furious lion he slips and falls. The mime is terrified.
The lion gathers itself and prepares to pounce. The mime is so scared that he begins to run round and round the cage with the lion close behind.
Finally, the mime starts screaming and yelling, “Help, Help me!”, but the lion is quick and pounces.
The mime soon finds himself flat on his back looking up at the angry lion and which point the lion says, “Shut up you idiot! You’re gonna get us both fired!”
Where does LENT come from? Does anyone know?
The word Lent comes from an Anglo-Saxon word for spring, from a Germanic root word for “long’, referring to the longer days.
Is there any reference to Lent in the Bible? NO. There are references to ‘preparation’.
What are we ‘preparing for?
Transformation! Have you noticed a recurrrance here? Didn’t we just have a transformative experience at Christmas? Yes we did.
Why do we have it again? If you look at the Hebrew Bible from a metaphorical and metaphysical point of view, it is a story of our Spiritual journey. And we have our starts and stops, don’t we?
Just as the Israelites found their One God and then left that same God for all kinds of other Gods, only to come back to their One True God, we do the same thing. We are ok and then we’re lacking faith, for whatever reason.
So, yes, as we were reminded last week, Michael Cunningham said “We are here to be transformed, and to be transformed again and again and again.”
The Lenten Season is a time for self-improvement. Its timing with spring brings about thoughts of renewal, creativity. We can direct our Divine discontent towards our need for growth just as the trees bud and the flowers sprout from the ground.
We just talked about self-love last week. This season is an opportunity to put that self-love into action through self-examination, self-discipline and self-commitment.
Lent is the perfect time to let go and reflect on what it means to be a child of God. As we begin this Lenten season, we search within our hearts for direction. We give thanks for the wisdom of Spirit that is continually guiding us on our paths in life.
There are two questions before us this Ash Wednesday:
In what way(s) is God inviting me to live my Divine Nature?
What limited ways of seeing myself am I ready to shed to make way for my greater experience of myself?
In Matthew 4:1-11, we have several themes to ponder for Ash Wednesday.
Here are some questions to ponder as I read the text:
How Jesus was invited to live his greatness rather than his limitations–to trust God rather than fear. How do I relate to these?
That is my relationship to the material world – prosperity? Do I fret and worry or do I rely on God as my Source?
What is the level of my self-esteem, my self-love, my self-valuing? Is who I am good enough to live fully in the world or do I have to wear an impressive mask?
Where does my sense of power and security come from? Do I need to exercise control over other people/conditions in order to feel safe and competent or do I work for self-mastery and self-responsibility in order to accomplish my God-given dreams?
READ the TEXT
Let me read those questions again?
Today we choose to release any sense of limitation. We are strong, positive, powerful, wise, loving, fearless and free spiritual beings. We give thanks to Spirit for the opportunity to embark on this rich and rewarding process of spiritual release and spiritual realization.
Our consciousness can be cluttered with thoughts of fear, lack, limitation and resentment accumulated through our life experiences and what we’ve been told by others. Since whatever we believe forms the basis for what we experience in life, these negative thoughts of lack and limitation create a poverty mentality and a sense of being a powerless victim.
These mistaken thoughts are the only impediment to a new awareness of God’s eternal, indwelling presence within us. As we replace them with positive thoughts of infinite love and abundance, and allow these new thoughts to express through us, we dissolve any feelings of victimization and begin to create an entirely new life experience.
Releasing and replacing our negative thoughts can seem overwhelming. But we aren’t alone: All the spiritual energy of the universe is rushing to help. In Charles Fillmore’s words, it is “as though we are gently brushing away cobwebs of negativity that have been dimming the glow of our spiritual light.”
Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, is so-called from the ceremonial of ashes. Ashes symbolize repentance. Repentance means denial; it is a relinquishment and should be made without too much vehemence.
Therefore, I deny out of consciousness old error thoughts, as if I were gently sweeping away cobwebs, and
I affirm positively and fearlessly that I am a child of God, and that my inheritance is from Spirit.
Traditionally, we have heard or been taught to “give up” something for Lent. Often is was something considered a sacrifice for us…like chocolate, or coffee for you coffee lovers. Maybe sweets or a favorite food.
I suggest if we are to give up something, make it something that is a concern for you, like anger, or jealousy, complaining. Give up the thought that you are lesser than any other.
Or, even better, take up something good like volunteering or prayer, journaling, or family night.
Maybe being more caring, compassionate or loving. Make an effort to always say something good. Watch your thoughts more closely.
Start a daily prayer or meditation practice.
“I CAN” instead of “I CAN’T.”
Let’s “Take up” the practice of higher-level thinking. Jesus raised his eyes to the heavens when praying or giving thanks, not looking for his “Father” but indicating Higher thoughts, our Higher Self.
I’d like to suggest a ritual where we write some habit or negative behavior we would like to “give up,” or, if you are choosing to add a positive action to you behaviors, list that on your paper and burn it as a contract to yourself and your Higher Power.
And let’s have a burning bowl for Ash Wednesday.
So, take your little paper and write down now, what you wish to burn in contract to your Higher Self and as you complete your contract, the Ushers will direct you to the Burning Bowl.
Let’s say together:
Today, we choose to release any sense of limitation. We are strong, positive, powerful, wise, loving, fearless and free spiritual beings. We give thanks for the opportunity to embark on this rich and rewarding process of spiritual release and spiritual realization.