Lent 40 Sample Page (from 2017)
// 17: Cartwheels + handstands
"Unless you change and become like little children..." (Matthew 18.3)
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I had the deep pleasure yesterday of leading a group which was exploring outdoorsy and alternative ways of being a (spiritual) community. There were people of no faith, some faith and much faith represented; and there were as many children as adults.
It's always wonderful when kids are in the mix. "Do you know what day it is tomorrow?" I asked the group. One girl put her hand up excitedly. "Monday!" she exclaimed. A boy then had a go: "The school residential!" he said. He was clearly looking forward to it.
It is, indeed, both Monday and the school residential today. But it's also the spring equinox. So we marked it a little ahead of time with some outdoor activities, such as facing away from the sun to be thankful for all that had happened in the winter, then facing towards it, to welcome all that's to come this spring.
While I led a session for the adults, the kids (with a bit of help) built a fabulous labyrinth. And as I solemnly processed the adults outside to walk it - slowly (as I re-emphasised) - one lad was hurtling through it, barefoot, shouting, "The record to the middle is 14.6 seconds!" I pictured pilgrims at Chartres cathedral all legging it in a race to the finish.
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As we sat around a campfire at the end of the day, I asked people to reflect on their experience. The adults had some enriching comments about the soulful connections we'd made. One shared how the labyrinth had stilled his mind and yielded all sorts of insights. We nodded, appreciatively. It had indeed been a rewarding day.
And then the little girl sitting on a log next to me put her hand up. "What did you like?" I asked. She replied with the utmost gravity: "Doing cartwheels and handstands."
Her phrase stayed with me as I left the retreat centre and headed for home. In the adjacent fields, I had my first energising sight of spring lambs gambolling as the sun set on the day, and on the winter just gone. New life, instinctively, infectiously playful.
And it struck me that if we are only able to enter God's 'kingdom' as little children, as Jesus suggests, then cartwheels and handstands are exemplary fruits on a day such as this; and signs of the burgeoning Spirit, that force of life, which loves and longs to put spring back in the steps of us all.
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Choose to Play!
* Find ways to be child-like & playful today.
* Listen out for any wisdom you might overhear from children.
* Stand outside and face away from the sun. Reflect on the passing of winter (or if you are in the southern hemisphere, summer!). Give thanks for what it yielded. Then, turn to welcome the season to come. Ask for God's help to bring love and life to whatever circumstances you find yourself in, in the days to come.
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May you find spring in your steps, today.