- Kathleen Henderson Staudt
- I work as a teacher, poet and spiritual director at a number of institutions in the DC area. My teaching focuses in various ways on writing, poetry, Spirituality and Christian vocation and ministry - especially from the point of view of the laity. I also offer classes and retreats encouraging people to explore their inner lives, engage their creativity and reflect on their beliefs about God, vocation, and how we can discern and pursue new ways to transform our broken world. I enjoy speaking of faith in the secular academy as well as reminding those preparing for ministry in the Church that our primary purpose is to love and serve the world beyond the church's doors. I love helping people to grow in faith and to find their own voices, and I also love encouraging them to use their minds. I see no contradiction between these impulses, believing as I do that faith, reason and creativity work together.
Monday, March 9, 2009
Coming Home to Lent
(also on Episcopal Cafe)
On the Sunday of the Transfiguration, February 22, I began my day in summer sunshine, sitting on a patio in Sidney, Australia watching the sailboats and ferry boats that were just beginning their day, and reading, for my morning devotion, the story of the Transfiguration. We spent those last 12 days of Epiphany “down under,” -- away from the awful brushfires though they were very much in our awareness all over Australia, a national tragedy—and mostly by the sea. For us it was a sojourn into summertime, a conference by the southern beaches (our reason for going) along the Great Ocean Road, and four days of pure vacation on a tropical island in the Great Barrier Reef, living alongside Creation at its liveliest – with nesting birds and turtles, and a whole colorful and unimagined world right under the surface of the water, off the beach, on a part of the reef that still seems healthy and beautiful. It was a time of reconnecting with my “summer self” – the me who spends time each morning in summer on the patio, writing poems and watching the birds, claiming that season as the time of regrouping and regeneration that the summer is for those of us who live by the academic calendar.
Even sitting there that Sunday morning I knew it might be hard to remember my “summer patio self” by the end of the day. Because the end of the day would be almost a day later. Before February 22 ended for us, we would be back in Washington, in freezing cold weather, and ready or not, called to jump back into the busy life of teaching and formation that is characteristic of my winter-time --- AND it would be Lent 3 days later!
Now, a week later, after a wonderful whirlwind weekend of teaching, barely recovered from jet lag, I look back on that time on the patio as a quiet example of what the Transfiguration story gives us: a lamp shining in the darkness, the letter of Peter calls it; a moment on the summer patio, sipping tea, resting in the quiet of a Sabbath morning on the harbor, reflecting on what it means to be invited into the presence of the living Christ and seeing, just for a moment, that it’s all true. I wonder if those disciples connected, just for a moment, with their own deepest selves, the part of themselves that was called out and loved – as he showed them, just for a moment, that ‘yes – it’s all true”; and they heard “This is my Son, the beloved” – before they headed back down the mountain to discover how much work there was to be done, how much the world needed healing, and dealt again with their own inadequacy to the task of healing and reconciliation that called them back down the mountain.
This Lent, the vastness and smallness of the world, revealed through the time of travel, offers a special gift to me: I am hoping that the memory of my “summer self,” sitting with Jesus on that patio down under, will stay with me this season, as I enter the swirl of activity that this season inevitably brings for someone engaged in retreat and formation work. Perhaps that time as my summer self is the “lamp shining in the darkness” that I’ve been given, this Lenten season.