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Into these early days of Eastertide, I bring gifts from what was a most meaningful season of Lent. Lent 2021 was different from past observances including the worldwide journey through the COVID-19 pandemic and its implications for life as we had known it.

Like many during the pandemic, I appreciated, cherished, and celebrated new and enriching things, especially the small group experience of exploring Jack Kornfield’s The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness, and Peace. Often it is said that small group participation is one of the most important aspects of nurturing faith, spiritual formation and growth, and forming community with other pilgrims. 

This year, I was blessed to spend four Lenten Wednesday nights in a ZOOM class with Kay Abernathy, Anne Ayres, Judy Beaird, Doug Duncan, Barb Frazer, Sandra Ireland, and Beth Perkins. Even when all eight of us were unable to be present at the same time, a certain community was instantly in place. Kornfield’s collection of quotes were perfect for the observance of holy Lent, a 40-day period of self-examination, prayer, and undertaking what is necessary to make a right beginning through repentance.

At our final gathering, I shared that time in community with others made for a most meaningful Lent. I attribute it to fellow classmates and the compilation of invitational and transformational words offered by Jack Kornfield. If you’re reading this, do yourself a favor and obtain a copy of The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness, and Peace to become a “bedside” or “companion” book. (Some of our personal favorites are shared below.) Maybe you too will find the book meaningful, helpful, and worth conversations with others on the journey of life in this world.

Eastertide peace and blessings, Ollie+

The Rev. Ollie V. Rencher, Rector
14 April 2021, Eastertide

Lenten Class Favorites from The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness, and Peace (Jack Kornfield)

  • Lovingkindness gives birth to a natural compassion. The compassionate heart holds the pain and sorrow of our life and of all beings with mercy and tenderness. It is this tender heart that has the power to transform the world.
  • Traditionally the work of the heart begins with forgiveness. Forgiveness is the necessary ground for any healing. First we need a wise understanding of forgiveness. Then we can learn how it is practiced, how we may forgive both ourselves and others.
  • The past is over: Forgiveness means giving up all hope of a better past.
  • Even trying too hard to be good, we can lose our center. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything, is to succumb to the violence of our times.
  • The loving heart cannot distinguish between large and small matters; all are worthy of love.
  • Love can only be found where we are. Love is “nearer than near.” Are you looking for the Holy One? I am in the next seat. My shoulder is against yours.
  • Peace requires us to surrender our illusions of control. We can love and care for others but we cannot possess our children, lovers, family, or friends. We can assist them, pray for them, and wish them well, yet in the end their happiness and suffering depend on their thoughts and actions, not on our wishes.
  • What would we have to hold in compassion to be at peace right now? What would we have to let go of to be at peace right now?”