Archive for the ‘Lent’ Category

Beloved: An Online Retreat for Lent 2015

January 23, 2015

Beloved Lenten Retreat
I am still savoring the amazing experience of traveling with everyone who participated in the Illuminated online retreat during Advent. Inspired by that journey, I am back in the studio, preparing an all-new retreat for Lent. I would love for you to join us! Here’s a glimpse of what this online retreat holds in store:
 


BELOVED
An Online Journey into Lent & Easter
February 18 – April 6
New for 2015!

This online retreat is not about adding one more thing to your schedule! It is about helping you find spaces for reflection that draw you deep into the mysteries and gifts of this season. Intertwining reflection, art, music, and community, this retreat offers a space of elegant simplicity as you journey through Lent.

You can join in this all-new retreat from anywhere you are; you do not have to show up at a particular place or time. You’re welcome to engage the retreat as much or as little as you wish, in the way that fits you best. If you’re hungry for a simple way to move deeply into this season, this retreat is for you.

Individual, group, and congregational rates are available. You can also give the retreat as a gift! For retreat details, FAQs, and registration, visit Online Lenten Retreat.


 
The season of Lent invites us to know, most of all, how completely God loves us, and to let go of everything that would keep us from receiving and responding to that love. This invitation is at the heart of the Beloved Lenten Retreat. If that sounds good to you, please join us!

Blessings to you as Lent draws near.

Ash Wednesday: The Hands that Hold the Ashes

February 27, 2014


Image: Blessing the Dust © Jan Richardson

Readings for Ash Wednesday: Joel 2:1-2, 12-17; Psalm 51:1-17;
2 Corinthians 5:20b – 6:10
; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

(For the Ash Wednesday 2015 post, click Ash Wednesday: The Terrible, Marvelous Dust.)

My husband’s ashes are in the keeping of my brother. Scott is holding onto them until the day I can bear to gather them up and release them. On that day, we will bury Gary’s ashes on the farm that has been in the Richardson family for more than a century; the farm where, on a bright spring day so recently, Gary and I were married.

You can imagine that Ash Wednesday will feel different for me this year and always. The sheer fact of Gary’s ashes poses questions that stagger me and make me ache: questions that I am working my way through ever so slowly, questions for which I do not anticipate ever having answers.

In the midst of my struggle and sorrow, what I keep seeing are the hands that hold the ashes—my brother’s hands, and the hands of those who, in gatherings around the world next Wednesday, will trace the sign of the cross on each brow: sign of repentance and release, sign of stubborn hope. If I never make sense of the ashes and their awful and aching mystery, I can hold on, at least, to the hands that bear them, and that bear me up in these days.

How about you?

Blessings, blessings to you as Lent draws near.

Will You Meet Us
A Blessing for Ash Wednesday

Will you meet us
in the ashes
will you meet us
in the ache
and show your face
within our sorrow
and offer us
your word of grace:

That you are life
within the dying
that you abide
within the dust
that you are what
survives the burning
that you arise
to make us new.

And in our aching
you are breathing
and in our weeping
you are here
within the hands
that bear your blessing
enfolding us
within your love.

–Jan Richardson


An invitation into Lent…

During Lent, most of my creative energies will be going toward the new online retreat that I’ll be offering for the season. I would love to have your company on this journey and to stay connected with you as Lent unfolds. Intertwining reflection, art, music, and community, the retreat is designed as a space of elegant simplicity that you can enter from wherever you are, at any time that works for you.

I sometimes hear from folks who say, “I’d love to do this but I don’t have time for a retreat!” I completely get that, and so I have especially designed this retreat so that you can engage as much or as little as you wish, in the way that fits best for you. Rather than being one more thing to add to your Lenten schedule, this retreat weaves easily and simply through your days.

For more info and registration, please visit our overview page at Online Lenten Retreat. And please share this link with your friends! (In addition to the individual rate, we have group rates available for folks who want to share the retreat together near or far.) You can even give the Lenten retreat as a gift! If you have questions about the retreat, or concerns about things that you think might hinder you from sharing in the journey, be sure to check out our FAQ page (you’ll find a link on the overview page).


For previous reflections, blessings, and art for Ash Wednesday, please see these posts:

Ash Wednesday: Blessing the Dust
Ash Wednesday: Rend Your Heart
The Memory of Ashes
Upon the Ashes (which features the indomitable Sojourner Truth)
The Artful Ashes
Ash Wednesday, Almost

Using Jan’s artwork…
To use the image “Blessing the Dust,” please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. (This is also available as an art print. After clicking over to the image’s page on the Jan Richardson Images site, just scroll down to the “Purchase as an Art Print” section.) Your use of janrichardsonimages.com helps make the ministry of The Painted Prayerbook possible. Thank you!

Using Jan’s words…
For worship services and related settings, you are welcome to use Jan’s blessings or other words from this blog without requesting permission. All that’s needed is to acknowledge the source. Please include this info in a credit line: “© Jan Richardson. janrichardson.com.” For other uses, visit Copyright Permissions.

Beloved: An Online Retreat for Lent

February 20, 2014

Lent is drawing close, already! It was such a remarkable gift to travel through Advent with so many of you on the Illuminated retreat. As we look to this new season, I would love for you to join us for the all-new online retreat that I’ll be offering during Lent. Here’s a glimpse of what’s ahead:

BELOVED: An Online Journey into Lent & Easter
March 4 – April 21
New for 2014!

This online retreat is not about adding one more thing to your schedule! It is about helping you find spaces for reflection that draw you deep into the mysteries and gifts of this season. Intertwining reflection, art, music, and community, this retreat offers a space of elegant simplicity as you journey through Lent.

You can join in the retreat from anywhere you are; you do not have to show up at a particular place or time. You’re welcome to engage the retreat as much or as little as you wish, in the way that works best for you. If you’re hungry for a simple way to move deeply into this season, this retreat is for you.

Group and congregational rates are available. You can also give the retreat as a gift! For retreat details, FAQs, and registration, visit Online Lenten Retreat.

The season of Lent invites us to know, most of all, how utterly and thoroughly God loves us, and to let go of everything that would keep us from receiving and responding to that love. This invitation is at the heart of the Beloved Lenten Retreat. If that sounds good to you—if you’d like to lean into the love that enfolds and encompasses you—I would love to travel with you.

Blessings to you as Lent approaches.

Lent 1: A Return to the Wilderness

February 11, 2013


For my Ash Wednesday reflection, please see Ash Wednesday: Blessing the Dust
.

Reading from the Gospels, Lent 1, Year C: Luke 4.1-13

Almost Lent! As I shared in my previous post, during the coming season I’ll be devoting most of my creative energies to the online retreat that Gary and I will be offering, and we’d love to journey with you in this way. If you haven’t visited our overview page for the Lenten retreat (which you can do from anywhere, in whatever way works for you), please stop by and see what we’ll be about during the coming weeks.

Here at The Painted Prayerbook, I’ll post links to previous reflections and art for the season. After journeying through five Lents here, we have lots of resources for your Lenten path! I also have many images for Lent and Easter. See the Lent & Easter gallery at Jan Richardson Images.

I wish you many blessings as Lent begins.


For a previous reflection on this passage, click the image or title below.


Lent 1: Into the Wilderness


For related reflections on Lent 1 in other years, visit:

Wilderness and Wings
Lent 1: A Blessing for the Wilderness

 

A River Runs Through Him
Lent 1: A River Runs through Him

 

Discernment in the Desert
Lent 1: Discernment and Dessert in the Desert

 

Tempted
Day 3: Into the Wilderness


To learn more about our online Lenten retreat, click the retreat icon below. Group rates are available!

Ash Wednesday: Blessing the Dust

February 8, 2013


Image: Blessing the Dust © Jan L. Richardson

Readings for Ash Wednesday: Joel 2:1-2, 12-17; Psalm 51:1-17;
2 Corinthians 5:20b – 6:10
; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

As we work together with him, we urge you also
not to accept the grace of God in vain.
—2 Corinthians 6.1

Blessing the Dust
A Blessing for Ash Wednesday

All those days
you felt like dust,
like dirt,
as if all you had to do
was turn your face
toward the wind
and be scattered
to the four corners

or swept away
by the smallest breath
as insubstantial—

Did you not know
what the Holy One
can do with dust?

This is the day
we freely say
we are scorched.

This is the hour
we are marked
by what has made it
through the burning.

This is the moment
we ask for the blessing
that lives within
the ancient ashes,
that makes its home
inside the soil of
this sacred earth.

So let us be marked
not for sorrow.
And let us be marked
not for shame.
Let us be marked
not for false humility
or for thinking
we are less
than we are

but for claiming
what God can do
within the dust,
within the dirt,
within the stuff
of which the world
is made,
and the stars that blaze
in our bones,
and the galaxies that spiral
inside the smudge
we bear.

–Jan Richardson


An invitation into the coming season…

During Lent, most of my creative energies will be going toward the online retreat that Garrison Doles and I will be offering from Ash Wednesday through Easter (February 13 – March 31). We would love for you to join us for this journey and to stay connected with you in this way as Lent unfolds. Intertwining reflection, art, music, and community, the retreat is designed as a space of contemplative grace that you can enter from wherever you are, at any time that works for you.

We sometimes hear from folks who say, “I’d love to do this but I don’t have time for a retreat!” We totally get that, and so we have especially designed this retreat so that you can engage as much or as little as you wish, in the way that fits best for you. Rather than being one more thing to add to your Lenten schedule, this retreat is created as a way to open up some spaces for reflection and rest in the midst of your days.

If you enjoy The Painted Prayerbook, the retreat will be a great way to experience the kinds of elements you find here in a more frequent and focused fashion, with added features that will weave through the retreat and help to sustain you throughout the coming season. Plus, participating in the retreat is a great way to support the ministry of The Painted Prayerbook. Most of all, Gary and I would be so pleased to have the gift of your company in these Lenten days, and to enter together into the mysteries and gifts of the season.

If you have questions about the retreat, or concerns about things that you think might hinder you from sharing in the journey, please visit our overview page by clicking the retreat icon below. The overview page also has a link to a bonus page with FAQs. Please feel free to be in touch with me directly if you need further details. And please share this link with your friends—we’d be delighted to travel with them, too! (And we do have group rates available, for folks who want to share the retreat together near or far.) If you’d like to provide the retreat for someone as a gift, let me know, and we can easily make this happen.

Wherever your Lenten path takes you, in whatever company you travel: blessings and more blessings to you. Know that I hold you in prayer. Peace.

And for a previous reflection and blessing for Ash Wednesday, click the image or title below.


Day 1/Ash Wednesday: Rend Your Heart

For other reflections, blessings, and art for Ash Wednesday, also see my posts The Memory of Ashes, Upon the Ashes (which features the indomitable Sojourner Truth), The Artful Ashes, and Ash Wednesday, Almost.

[To use the image “Blessing the Dust,” please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. Your use of janrichardsonimages.com helps make the ministry of The Painted Prayerbook possible. Thank you!]

Leaning toward Lent

January 23, 2013

It’s almost Lent, already! Having had such a great time with the folks who joined us from around the world for our online Advent retreat, Gary and I are excited about the online retreat we’re offering for the coming season. We would love for you to join us! Here’s some info that we hope will entice you:

RETURN: An Online Journey into Lent & Easter
February 13 – March 31

This is a Lenten retreat for people who don’t have time for a Lenten retreat (and for those who do!). You do not have to show up at a particular place or time. You can do this retreat from anywhere you are, and you’re welcome to engage the retreat as much or as little as you wish.

Travel toward Easter in the company of folks who want to move through this season with mindfulness and grace. This online retreat is not about adding one more thing to your schedule. It is about helping you find spaces for reflection that draw you deep into the mysteries and gifts of this season. This retreat intertwines reflection, art, music, and community, offering a space of elegant simplicity as you journey through Lent.

If you’re part of a group that would like to take the retreat together, we offer group discounts. Whether you’re part of a group that meets together in one place, such as a Bible study or book group, or a network of friends or colleagues stretched across the country or around the world, this retreat is a great way to travel through the season together.

If you’re hungry for a simple way to move deeply into this season, this retreat is for you. For more info and registration, visit Online Lenten Retreat or click the retreat logo above.

Blessings and peace to you as we lean toward Lent!


And in other news . . .

You can now view sample pages from the beautiful new hardcover edition of In Wisdom’s Path! Designed as a companion through the sacred seasons of the year, with reflections, prayers, poems, and color artwork throughout, In Wisdom’s Path includes sections for Lent and Easter. Click the cover below to visit the Books department at janrichardson.com, where you can view sample pages of In Wisdom’s Path and place orders. (And do some browsing around the site!)

 

Day 40/Holy Saturday: Therefore I Will Hope

April 5, 2012

Therefore I Will Hope © Jan L. Richardson

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in God.”
—Lamentations 3.24

From a lectionary reading for Holy Saturday: Lamentations 3.1-9, 19-24

Reflection for Saturday, April 7 (Holy Saturday/Day 40 of Lent)

I’m so taken with the way that, like those who composed the book of Psalms, the author of Lamentations—which tradition held to be the prophet Jeremiah—is able to hold seemingly conflicting emotions at once. Today’s reading consists primarily of—well, you can tell from the title of the book—a lamentation, stunning and suffocating in the way it describes the author’s sense of affliction and imprisonment. God has driven and brought me into darkness without any light, he wails; against me alone God turns a hand, again and again, all day long….God has made me sit in darkness like the dead of long ago. God has walled me about so that I cannot escape.

Though afflicted by destruction, the author of the lament cannot manage to sustain his despair for long. But this I call to mind, he cries out as the lament turns just before its end; and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, God’s mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning.

Though composed as a lament for the destruction of the Temple and the city of Jerusalem in 586 BCE, one can well imagine why these words came to be associated with Christ in the tomb. Christ, who referred to himself as the Temple, now brought to death and seeming destruction; Christ in the darkness without any light.

In another lectionary passage for Holy Saturday, we read of how, after Joseph of Arimathea places Jesus’ body in the tomb and rolls a stone across the entrance, “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb” (Matthew 27.61). I wonder if these words from Lamentations came to them in their waiting. In the darkness, in their sorrow, with no evident cause for rejoicing, did they, like the author of Lamentations, yet find cause for hope?

On this day—this last, final day of Lent—it may be tempting to skip ahead to what awaits us on Sunday, without giving Holy Saturday its due. We know the rest of the story. Yet how might it be to linger with these words of lamentation, as if we did not know? What if we sat ourselves down with the women opposite the tomb, and listened to their grief and longing, and waited with them? When times of darkness come in our own lives, and we don’t know the rest of the story, how does what God has done for us in the past give us cause to hope for what God will yet do?

Therefore I Will Hope
A Blessing for Holy Saturday

I have no cause
to linger beside
this place of death

no reason
to keep vigil
where life has left

and yet I cannot go,
cannot bring myself
to cleave myself
from here

can only pray
that this waiting
might yet be a blessing
and this grieving
yet a blessing
and this stone
yet a blessing
and this silence
yet a blessing
still.

P.S. For previous reflections for Holy Saturday, click the images or titles below.

Holy Saturday: The Art of Enduring

Holy Saturday: A Day Between

[To use the image “Therefore I Will Hope,” please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. Your use of janrichardsonimages.com helps make the ministry of The Painted Prayerbook possible. Thank you!]

Day 39/Good Friday: They Took the Body of Jesus

April 5, 2012

According to the Burial Custom © Jan L. Richardson (click to enlarge)

They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews.
—John 19.40

From a lectionary reading for Good Friday: John 18.1-19.42

Reflection for Friday, April 6 (Good Friday/Day 39 of Lent)

Years earlier, when an angel had appeared in a sheep pasture proclaiming good news of great joy, the angel had told the shepherds of a Savior, a Messiah, a Lord whom they would find as a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger. Now, on this day, the Savior is wrapped in a spiced shroud of linen cloths, a scented winding sheet to hold him as he lies in the tomb. It’s tempting to draw a stark contrast between the emotions of those who held Christ at his birth and those who held him at his death; though joy must have prevailed at the beginning of his life and fear and grief at the end, surely, among those who saw and knew him best, celebration and sorrow were mixed on each occasion. Yet as at the beginning, so at the end: those who love Christ enfold him, tend him, bless him.

Song of the Winding Sheet
A Blessing for Good Friday

We never
would have wished it
to come to this
yet we call
these moments holy
as we hold you

Holy the tending
holy the winding
holy the leaving
as in the living

Holy the silence
holy the stillness
holy the turning
and returning to earth.

Blessed is the one
who came
in the name

blessed is the one
who laid
himself down

blessed is the one
emptied for us

blessed is the one
wearing the shroud.

Holy the waiting
holy the grieving
holy the shadows
and gathering night

Holy the darkness
holy the hours
holy the hope
turning toward light.

P.S. For previous reflections on Good Friday, click the images or titles below.

Good Friday: What Abides

Good Friday: In Which We Get Nailed

For a video slideshow that intertwines my series of images on the Seven Last Words of Christ with Gary’s exquisite song “This Crown of Thorns”:

Listening at the Cross

[To use the image “According to the Burial Custom,” please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. To use the “Listening at the Cross” video, please visit this page. Your use of janrichardsonimages.com helps make the ministry of The Painted Prayerbook possible. Thank you!]

Day 38/Holy Thursday: Cup of the New Covenant

April 4, 2012

In the Cup of the New Covenant © Jan L. Richardson

In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying,
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this,
as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
—1 Corinthians 11.25

From a lectionary reading for Holy Thursday/Maundy Thursday:
1 Corinthians 11.23-26

Reflection for Thursday, April 5 (Holy Thursday/Day 38 of Lent)

On a windy spring day long past, my friend Kary and I hurry through the streets of an art festival in downtown Atlanta. I am hosting a Communion service that evening, and we are searching in hopes of finding a potter who has a chalice that we can use. It’s nearly time for the festival to shut down when Kary and I, empty-handed, head down the last street. There, near the end of the street, we find a potter who has begun to pack up his booth. But among the pieces he still has out are several lovely earthenware chalices. I select one, and we leave the festival joyful and relieved, carrying the beautiful cup—the first chalice I would ownand its matching paten.

It has been a long time since I’ve thought of that spring day and the grail quest it held. But that’s what the table invites us to do: to remember, to gather around the cup of memory and the bread of celebration, to enter again into the stories—and the Story—that they hold. In today’s scripture reading, Paul’s telling of the story of the Last Supper is elegant in its utter simplicity. And heartbreaking. And brimming with hope.

In the years and centuries to follow this meal, the Christian tradition will spill vast quantities of ink over the meaning and doctrine of what takes place on this night. Yet Paul’s story, received from Christ and passed along to us, lays bare the essence of the gift: This is my body, Christ says with the bread in his hands, that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me. Cradling the cup, Christ tells his table companions, This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.

Given. Poured out. For us.

This day, this Holy Thursday, beckons us to return to the table, to gather around the bread that has been offered to us, the cup that has been poured out for us. Yet this day will also send us out: away from the table and into the world, in search of those who hunger and thirst for what Christ gives: to us, through us. This is the real grail quest: to discern what to do with what we have been given, and then to do this. What path will the bread and the cup—and the One who offers them—impel you to take?

Blessing the Bread,
the Cup

Let us bless the bread
that gives itself to us
with its terrible weight,
its infinite grace.

Let us bless the cup
poured out for us
with a love that drenches,
that makes us anew.

Let us gather
around these gifts
simply given
and deeply blessed.

And then let us go
bearing the bread,
carrying the cup,
laying the table
within a hungering world.

P.S. For previous reflections on Holy Thursday, click the images or titles below.

Holy Thursday: Take a Blessing

Holy Thursday: Feet and Food

[To use the image “In the Cup of the New Covenant,” please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. Your use of janrichardsonimages.com helps make the ministry of The Painted Prayerbook possible. Thank you!]

Day 37/Wednesday of Holy Week: Rejoice and Be Glad

April 3, 2012

Rejoice and Be Glad © Jan L. Richardson (click image to enlarge)

Let all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you. Let those who love your salvation say evermore, “God is great!”
—Psalm 70.4

From a lectionary reading for Wednesday of Holy Week: Psalm 70

Reflection for Wednesday, April 4 (Day 37 of Lent)

In her book Traveling Mercies, Anne Lamott writes that the two best prayers she knows are “Help me, help me, help me” and “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” I think of Lamott’s prayers as I linger with Psalm 70, a tiny jewel of a psalm whose five brief verses offer a spare bit of elaboration upon that basic cry for help and declaration of gratitude.

“Be pleased, O God, to deliver me,” the psalmist pleads as the psalm begins. “O Lord, make haste to help me!” These same words (in the Douay-Rheims version of this verse, which renders the first part as “O God, come to my assistance”) open every office of the Liturgy of the Hours, with the exception of Vigils; for nearly two millennia, this constant reminder of humanity’s need for help has been embedded in the prayers that carry monastic folk through the day and night. The psalmist continues in this vein, imploring God to bring “shame and confusion” to those who seek to harm him, and entreating God to hurry. “You are my help and my deliverer,” the psalmist cries out as the psalm closes; “O Lord, do not delay!”

Help me, help me, help me.

Tucked into this tiny psalm, amidst the psalmist’s pleas for aid, a single verse counsels joy in the presence of panic: “Let all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you,” the psalmist sings. “Let those who love your salvation say evermore, ‘God is great!'”

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

For some of us, asking for help—from God, from another person—can be tremendously difficult. It may rarely occur to us that God created other people so that we don’t have to do everything by ourselves. Yet as the psalmist reminds us, knowing what we need and asking for appropriate help is part of what it means to belong to God—and to one another. And as the psalmist also reminds us in verse 4, seeking the help of God (which so often comes through others) is a pathway to gladness; drawing near to the God who takes delight in delivering us is a road to rejoicing.

And so I am here to ask you: What help do you need this day? How would it be to ask for it? What gladness and gratitude might be waiting for you there?

Blessing that Waits
to Come to Your Aid

When I have become
so reliant on myself
that I cannot see
the need that gnaws
so deep
in my soul,

open my eyes,
open my heart,
open my mouth
to cry out
for the help
that you do not ration,
the deliverance
that you delight to offer
in glad and
generous measure.

[To use the image “Rejoice and Be Glad,” please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. Your use of janrichardsonimages.com helps make the ministry of The Painted Prayerbook possible. Thank you!]