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by Susan Russell

And so we continue the Lenten journey. Some of us have given things up. (The rector, for example, announced on Sunday he is giving up salvation for Lent.) Others have taken things on. New books to explore. New meditation practices. A different route to work, even.

The forms and practices of our Lenten journeys vary — and yet for all their variety they all serve to prepare us (during our forty days of Lent) for our ministries, just as Jesus was prepared (during his forty days in the wilderness) for his.

They all call us toward the new beginning that is Easter — the day of resurrection, of new life, of promise that God’s love is so powerful that nothing … even death … can trump it. But they don’t stop there. The annual Lenten journey is arguably an icon of earthly journey — the one that begins and ends in God — and calls us always to seek understandings, new opportunities, new beginnings.

And so I give you John O’Donohue and his brilliant poem “For a New Beginning” in the hope that his words will offer both challenge and support — no matter who you are or where you find yourself in the journey this Lent.

For a New Beginning

In out of the way places of the heart
Where your thoughts never think to wander
This beginning has been quietly forming
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.

For a long time it has watched your desire
Feeling the emptiness grow inside you
Noticing how you willed yourself on
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.

It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the grey promises that sameness whispered
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent
Wondered would you always live like this.

Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream
A path of plenitude opening before you.

Though your destination is not clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is one with your life’s desire.

Awaken your spirit to adventure
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.
—John O’Donohue (1956–2008)

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