CS Lewis Doodles

For those of you embarking on a spiritual journey for Lent, I want to suggest a delightful YouTube channel you might enjoy, particularly if you appreciate the works of C.S. Lewis.

I have no idea who’s behind the channel or what prompted this person to share essays and book excerpts from C.S. Lewis in doodle form, but I’m pleased as punch that he/she did.

The CSLewisDoodle Channel is a collection of 35 videos (so far) that literally draw out the words of the writer. Below is “The Necessity of Chivalry,” an essay published in August 1940 during the Battle of Britain, in doodle form.

My favorite doodle videos are of The Screwtape Letters. They are acted out – like a play – complete with drawings that feel like you’re watching a graphic novel come to life.

Perhaps these videos can be a companion to something you’re already doing, or maybe you endeavor to watch one a day throughout the 40 days of Lent. For me, they make C.S. Lewis more accessible, as the combination of words and pictures create a deeper level of understanding.

However you use them, enjoy.

Full Body Experience

This is how  Sara Miles, author of City of God, describes Ash Wednesday.

This service… reminded me not to over-spiritualize the problem of mortality. Ash Wednesday was calling me back to worship God with my whole body — lungs, thumb, knees, eyes, tongue — and to admit that body’s inevitable failure. And it reminded me that I was no different in my flesh from any other human being. – City of God

It didn’t occur to me until last night how physical Ash Wednesday is. There’s touching involved, it’s dirty, and it all starts with a smelly, smoky fire. It’s a tangible experience, not just a spiritual or emotional one.

To dust we shall return.

Burning palm leaves

Furthermore, Sara adds, it’s entirely born from within the church. Ash Wednesday isn’t a holiday we pull from a Bible story. Jesus didn’t spread ashes on anyone’s forehead. Rather, it’s an event we created for ourselves to corporately realize our sin, to acknowledge our own mortality, and begin the rebirthing process of repentance together. It’s the starting line we cross together on our 40-day journey.

Holding hands

While working on St. Gregory’s liturgy for Ash Wednesday, Paul and I argued a bit about the challenges of collective confession. “Doesn’t it kind of let me off the hook,” I protested, “to say we have wasted your creation, blah, blah, we have been snide, blah, blah, we have failed at whatever? Shouldn’t I have to consider my own actual sins and look at exactly what it is I’ve personally done and am ready to repent of?”

“Ah,” said Paul. “That would be the sin of pride, thinking that your wickedness is so different from others’.”

Ash Wednesday allows us to look at one another in mutual sorrow and reflection. We’ve all done everything, just in different ways. My selfishness might look different than your selfishness, but it’s selfishness nonetheless.

So come on. Let’s get dirty on this journey together. Let’s get uncomfortable. Let’s brood a bit and see where the road takes us.

Lenten Book Pile

Lent reading begins today. This is ambitious considering what’s required for school, but I’m going to make a strong attempt.  Which one should I read first? Perhaps I should just start at the top.

Lent Reading 2014Understanding Four Views on Baptism
Sex God
City of God
Church History in Plain Language  (This book was in last year’s pile. I read through bits of it but found it was one of those that should be revisited regularly. Here is a link to the books I read last spring. If you click on it, you’ll see a sweet photo of three-month-old Major. )

To dust you shall return.

You know when your mom wanted to get your attention so she’d grab your chin, turn your face towards hers and look you square in the eye? You knew she was about to say something super important or correct you in a really big way. You’d get still and look back at her with a mixture of curiosity and fear (though mostly fear). You didn’t always know what was coming next, but you knew that the quieter she was, the more intense the message was going to be. So you listened.

That is what it felt like receiving palm ashes upon my forehead tonight. God grabbed my chin, looked me square in the eye and said, “Do I have your attention now? Good. Now let’s begin…”

It was comforting to hear other sniffles in the congregation tonight as I choked back my own. When you’re on a journey with other people, the road sure feels less lonely.

Our first Ash Wednesday

We aren’t unfamiliar with Ash Wednesday, as it marks the beginning of Lent, but we’ve never attended or belonged to a church that celebrated Ash Wednesday with a special service, much less through the application of ashes on our foreheads. I’d always mentally categorized the ritual as being just that – a ritual, not necessarily something that had a real purpose other than an outward form of acknowledgement. Basically, I didn’t really get it.

AshWednesdayCrossHonestly, I still don’t entirely get it, but that’s how it is with something new. I won’t really know the impact of acknowledging Ash Wednesday until after I’ve done it, or maybe after I’ve done it a few times. This is all part of following and celebrating the entire liturgical calendar, not just Easter and Christmas, for the first time. From what I understand, our church involves the children in this service, so it will be a real challenge for me to explain to the boys something I only roughly understand. We’re learning together and I somewhat enjoy it this way. I don’t have all the words in my vocabulary yet, and neither do they.

I’m happy to say that Jeremy has already memorized the Lord’s Prayer, and Jackson is getting close. We recite it regularly, which isn’t something I ever did before now, and for some reason it’s comforting to hear the boys say these words out loud. The prayer will hopefully mean more to them as they age and mature in their faith, but for now we’re just planting little seeds and giving them room to grow.

In other unrelated news, I was recently accepted into graduate school and have begun the process of finding scholarships and other funding to support this potential endeavor. It could all be for nothing since I refuse to take out student loans again (it took us nine years to pay off my undergraduate loans), and tuition is a screaming fortune. Still, it was nice to receive the acceptance letter, so I reveled in the accomplishment for one entire day.