Thanks to Trisha Day, member of Sunday Assembly at Holy Wisdom Monastery, for leading off our series of Women’s Lenten Lunches today. We were joined by 48 guests as Trisha offered a new perspective on Lenten disciplines. She suggests we give up some of our own self-interest and unhelpful patterns of relating to others in order to “bear with one another,” to show true compassion, to reverence what is sacred in others. Trisha references this spirit of compassion in a variety of writings:
Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as sisters and brothers be compassionate and humble. – 1 Peter 3:8
Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a huge battle. – Phyllo of Alexandria
This then is the good zeal which monks must foster with fervent love: They should each be the first to show respect to the other, supporting with the greatest patience one another’s weaknesses of body or behavior and earnestly competing in obedience to one another.
– Rule of Benedict
Have compassion for everyone you meet,
even if they don’t want it. What seems conceit,
bad manners, or cynicism is always a sign
of things no ears have heard, no eyes have seen.
You do not know what wars are going on
down there where the spirit meets the bone.
– Miller Williams
(Lenten) exercises cannot have their proper effect unless our motive for practicing them spring from personal meditation. We have to think about what we are doing, and the reasons for our actions must be enlivened by the transforming power of Christian love. – Thomas Merton
This Lenten gathering began with midday prayer, included a delicious lunch and good conversation, and ended with this prayer which Trisha offered:
Loving God, grant us the grace to reverence the sacredness of those whose lives are connected to our own through bonds of family and friendship, as well as all those we encounter throughout the ordinary comings and goings of daily life. As we move into Lent, help us to let go of our tendency to put self-interest ahead of our responsibility to respond to the needs of others. Give us patient and compassionate hearts in order to bear with one another with kindness and respect. We pray this in the name of Jesus who has taught us the way of compassion and shown us how to deal with suffering. Amen.