Journeying through Lent
20 + 1 + 4
So, the Lenten Challenge. 1 hour of worship a week, 4 hours of service a month, and 20 minutes of prayer a day. 1 hour of worship a week: check. 4 hours of service a month: check. 20 minutes of prayer a day? This seemed totally, truly, utterly impossible.
I pray throughout the day, short little prayers addressing things that come up and people who are on my mind. My attempts to pray for longer periods of time have pretty much consisted of me quickly praying some version of: Hi God. Great that you’re there. Thanks a lot for everything. Please bless everyone. Talk later!
So here are some of the strategies I’m using to get myself in the habit of more regular and concentrated prayer:
1. Walking. I walk to get groceries almost every day. I walk with my dog at Pt. Isabel. I walk to and from BART wherever I’m going. It works pretty well to just look around me and think, damn, this is a beautiful creation. Thank you thank you thank you God. And sometimes I pray “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad.” But there’s problems with this. I often get distracted by, well almost anything. Peets coffee. The shoes in the window of the shoe store that I really want. What to make for dinner. You name it, as hard as I try, my concentration is rather pathetic.
2. The gym. Ok, now this sounds really wacky, but it’s actually not quite as marginal as my walking prayer. It goes like this: lean on stationary bike handles. Fold hands in front. Bow head. Close eyes. Pedal like crazy and pray like crazy. Now I know everyone around me must think I’m a nut, but in that space I have a little more focus for a little longer. However, when I feel like I might fall off the bike I have to discontinue the prayer and readjust.
3. This is the one. Seriously. Rev. Daniel Prechtel is leading a Silent Prayer and Meditation group. We sit in silence for 20 minutes. And somehow the energy in the room supports me. I feel kind of funny letting everyone into my prayers, but here goes. I think it will explain at least partly why I’m already feeling so strong about this. This afternoon in our group I was meditating on and praying about Jesus on the cross. This is something I’ve never been able to get close to. It’s gory, it’s painful. But today the whole thing just opened up for me. I was picturing Mary, and how much I would expect she would rather have been on that cross herself. And I was asking myself, would I do that for my children? Yes, with great fear. And then I saw Jesus as having that same gargantuan love for all of us. He would rather be crucified than see us all destroying ourselves. He would rather die than have us die. And I can feel that love, that tremendous terrifying gift of love. Wow. What can I say?
Now I just have to learn to do this on my own, every day. That is a huge challenge, but one that I think is possible if I am rooted in a group practice.
So, I’m working on it. Not totally living up to the Lenten Challenge, but trying! Yes. Trying.
– Danielle Gabriel
From the Associate Rector
Holy Week with Children
Join us from 4:00-5:00pm on Good Friday as this year we create a space and a service specifically for children and families during Holy Week.
The Triduum – the Three Great Days – have for centuries upon centuries been a time for Christians to gather and retrace the last steps of Christ. From Maundy Thursday to Good Friday to Holy Saturday, we as a community at All Souls engage each year in profound and meaningful liturgies, many of which speak to children, but which are not always accessible to them either because of their timing or length.
This year we are introducing a Holy Week for Children service, which will draw upon the rituals and symbols of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday – inviting children into the story, the action, the reflection, and the wondering about this Mystery we are coming close to.
Using the framework of Godly Play, children and families will be greeted as they enter church, the first step to slowing down and getting ready. They will join the storyteller in creating a circle where they will hear the story of Jesus as he came to Jerusalem for the last time and as he gathered with his friends and washed their feet. The story will pause and the circle will be opened so that everyone can follow Jesus’ example and heed his words to love one another as he loves us. Once we have cared for one another in this way, the circle will be entered again for the continuing of the story – from the last meal Jesus shared with his friends to all that followed – the kiss of betrayal, the cross, the tomb. That is the place we stop on Good Friday. And it will be the place where everyone is invited to choose materials to work with as they reflect on all they’ve heard and seen and done. After some time for the work of reflection, everyone will gather for prayers, and for the invitation to return – to come and experience the ending that was a new beginning, Easter.
My hope is that all who are drawn to this experience of Holy Week will come and enter into the power of story and ritual, and invite others who are seeking such meaning for their families as well.
Yours in God’s peace, Kristin+
April 6 – Sunday School ~ CROP Walk
April 13 – Palm Sunday ~ truncated Sunday School time starting at 10:20am
April 20 – EASTER SUNDAY! ~ Egg Hunt at 10:20am ~ No Sunday School
April 27 – Sunday School
May 4 – Sunday School
• Please bring FILLED plastic eggs (stickers, treats, etc.) to church and drop them in the basket in the narthex.
• On Easter Sunday there will be Children’s Chapel at both the 9:00 and 11:15 services.
• The Easter Egg Hunt will be at 10:20am (following the 9:00 service/no Sunday School) – children should line up outside the playground gate along the Spruce St. sidewalk – volunteers will direct them into 2 groups (5 and under, 6-11) and every child will be given a treat bag to fill during the hunt.
• Don’t forget to return your NET BAGS with money saved for Episcopal Relief & Development! Look for the basket in the narthex.
CROP Walk is THIS Sunday!
Register NOW for this year’s Berkeley CROP Hunger Walk to end hunger. All Souls has once again put together a team to raise funds for Church World Service and local organizations. The walk is THIS Sunday, April 6 and will begin at Berkeley’s Newman Hall. Registration at 1:00 pm and the walk will start at 1:30 – ice cream at the finish line! Please call or email Margaret Sparks (510) 524-6106 / firstname.lastname@example.org) ASAP to sign up – or visit Berkeley Crop Hunger Walk to donate to the All Souls Team.
Mt. Cross Day Camp – Registration DEADLINE is May1!
Registration packets are available in the narthex for the amazing Vacation Bible School we co-sponsor with Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church. Camp will run the week of June 23-27 this year, focusing on the theme of Living in God’s Time. The camp day runs from 9am-3pm, with extended care available until 5pm and costs $150 /child; scholarships available. Mt. Cross is for kids ages 5-12 who have completed Kindergarten through 6th grade. There is a CIT program for Middle and High School youth. Contact Kristin Krantz (email@example.com / 510-848-1755) with any questions.
Diocesan Summer Camps
For children and youth, attending a church camp is one of the most important and memorable ways to experience relationship with God through community, fun, and the beauty of creation. The Bishop’s Ranch and St. Dorothy’s Rest offer extensive summer camp programs for children of all ages. Click HERE to find out more and to register!
Big Sur Camping Dates
Mark your calendars now the annual parish camping trip to Big Sur! We will gather by the river the weekend of July 18-20. Registration will begin in late May/early June.
Clay Crosses for the Lenten Journey
A New Relic
In my short history of observing Ash Wednesday I have attended a 6 a.m. service at the Episcopal Church near where I live in Oakland. But, this year Don and I decided to attend the evening service at All Souls for a change. (I did feel slightly naked going into work without ashes on my forehead that morning).
What I knew of the clay crosses prior to Ash Wednesday? I heard that we were going to add them to the All Souls Lenten experience this year, saw some people making them after the 11:15 service one Sunday, missed out on the Shrove Tuesday experience of seeing them fired in the ashes. Sounded interesting, but I was not engaged.
Ash Wednesday, 7:30 pm service – the sanctuary cross shrouded in purple, the lights low, a still solemnness to the worship punctuated by the minor key of Lenten hymns. I felt myself drawn into this special time of reflection, struggle, quiet. Just before Communion, Fr. Phil explained that when we left the altar rail we were invited to find our clay cross in a bowl on either side of the sanctuary. We were to take our crosses, carry them with us, as a symbol and reminder of our Lenten journey.
I went to the bowl and was surprised to see that the crosses were not in a pile in the bowl, they were buried in ashes, and each person sifted through the ashes to find (or be found by) their cross. There was a small bowl of water to rinse the ashes from the cross and a towel with which to dry it. This process was not fast. I joined others, slowing into the process, feeling the ashes between my fingers, touching different shapes, before I finally chose one to pull out, examine, rinse and blot dry.
I held mine in my hand, studied the simplicity of the hand-shaped clay and the rudimentary cross symbol. Who had made this? And although I knew they had been created over the last two weeks, my cross stone felt much older than that, like a relic from long ago.
These few weeks I have looked at my crosses more closely. On one finger prints from the hands that made it are visible. I do not know whose they are, but I feel a kinship with that person by virtue of holding a clay cross they made while I walk through Lent. I see something new each time I pick one up, more ashes fall away, new bits of the cross are revealed. Not unlike my personal experience of Lent.
Arts at All Souls
Reflections on the Stations of the Cross by parish photographers
For the past few weeks, the fourteen Stations of the Cross have encircled us in Lenten worship. Keeping in the tradition of the past six years, the Stations are creations by All Souls’ parishioners – this year interpreted through the medium of photography. A devotional booklet with the photographs embedded in the text serves as a guide while walking and praying the way of the cross. Although this ritual is traditionally associated with Good Friday, we encourage you to reflect on the Stations throughout Lent: on your way back from communion, before the Lenten Soup Series, or between Sunday worship services. The printed booklets are available at the beginning and end of the Stations, by the side columns at the front of the nave.
In addition to this resource, I asked the photographers to deepen our journey by sharing their personal reflections on the submissions they contributed, listed below.
Station 2: Jesus receives the Cross
This scene presented itself several years ago as I was walking through a small plaza in the Quintana Roo, Mexico. The blazing flower petals against the bare concrete caught my attention, then the detail of irregular stones placed between the concrete slabs. It was only as I was framing the picture that the image of the cross stood out to me. Something about the contrast of the hard, dull (unforgiving) concrete and the surprising beauty (blessing) of the petals was brought together for me by the cross. Is this image striking because we see the cross in an unexpected way—under our feet even as we travel? Does the meaning of the cross to us as Christians influence what we see?
Station 4: Jesus meets his mother Mary
Detail from a 16th century fresco at the Augustinian Monastery of Santa Maria Magdalena Cuitzeo, Michoacan. This image of a woman is a small piece of a pictorial story that we can never see entirely, as the fresco has eroded over time. Who is she? What does she see? We gaze upon her; what she gazes upon, we cannot truly know. We can only imagine. That is how I comprehend Mary—without certainty, but with imagination.
Mardie and Carlisle Becker
Station 6: Veronica wipes Jesus’ face
This evening photograph of the Farallones was taken from Mt. Tamalpais by Carlisle Becker. The emotions of this station are expressed in the photograph – the deep darkness of Jesus’ suffering, and the healing touch of the woman who cared for him. At the horizon are the future, beauty, and light.
Station 10: Jesus is stripped of his garments
When I took this photo of a transmission line up on the Hetch-Hetchy Power System near Groveland, CA, I was not sure why I was taking this other than I thought the juxtaposition of the transmission tower against the sunset sky was striking. The image came to mind when I saw the Pathfinder call for pictures. To me it suggests the image of a man stripped bare to his frame (bones?), yet with movement upward and out of the frame. Perhaps this could be representative of Jesus’s stripped of his garments, laid bare? The figure appears solitary and lonely, not of the surrounding world, an angular frame surrounded by organic figures that are quite different in all respects. Jesus is reaching to the heavens, reaching to the Father.
Stations 3, 7 and 9: Jesus falls, falls again, and falls the third time.
Station 12: Jesus dies
I have always been drawn to the repeating theme of Jesus falling the three separate times, bringing the narrative thread back to his point of view each time. I chose the various images of tree branches against the sky thinking of both the symbolism of wood – the cross is made of wood – as well as something about being a barrier to moving, or a structure challenging to pass through, getting progressively thick and difficult as the images process. The image for Station 12 (Jesus dies) includes the tree branches again but in a wider view of a dark, sad, rainy streetscape, which resonated for me with the ultimate sadness of that moment.
New to All Souls Parish Gathering on April 6th
Are you interested in learning more about All Souls Episcopal Parish? Do you want to get to know people in the church better while also learning some of the ins and outs of life at All Souls? Would you like to learn more about what it means to be a member at All Souls and the upcoming new-member recognition ceremony?
You are invited to a gathering on Sunday, April 6th at 1:00 pm at the home of Betsy and Steve Dixon at 45 Menlo Place in Berkeley (cross street is Thousand Oaks), phone (510) 527.5872.
This will be a time to get to know others that are new to the parish as well as those who have been involved longer. In addition, some of the leaders of All Souls will be there to discuss life at All Souls and what it means to be a member if that is something that interests you. A light lunch will be served. Childcare will be provided as well as rides for anyone who needs one.
If you are interested or have any questions, please contact Erin Horne at firstname.lastname@example.org or (510) 674-8877. Please RSVP by Tuesday, April 1st.
We hope to see you there!