Branching Out Blog

Early Spring Cleaning

Posted by Sharon Krause on Feb 19, 2024 6:00:00 AM

As we begin the season of Lent, we realize that it is time to refocus and renew our efforts to follow the ways of love that Jesus has taught us. We could think of it as a sort of spiritual spring cleaning.

Years ago, I had a friend who came to my house and helped me with my spring house cleaning. The first thing we did was to clean the windows. Even though the panes did not really appear that dirty, it certainly made a difference after the washing was done. Maybe we could do something spiritually to make our vision clearer in how we look at people and situations in our lives. It is easy to get stuck in certain modes of thought and opinion that may not be so charitable, understanding, or sensitive. Today’s liturgy reading from the Book of Leviticus reminds us to judge others justly. Perhaps we could look again through our relationship windows and consider if they are as clean as they should beeven in little matters and prejudices. Habits can form quite fast in our busy lives.

Spring cleaning can include sorting through possessions and deciding if some of them need to be tossed out, or, if in good condition, donated to worthy causes. We could sort through our talents and skills and possibly decide to donate some or our time and talent to help other people in need. Kind words, a random phone call, and gentle listening ears can fall into this category as well.

Dust seems to land and stay around in many places. Could it be that we should dust off that Bible or those books on a spiritual subject that we keep meaning to read, and spend some Lenten time reading? We do have to improve on purpose! Spring cleaning is work! It does make life better!

Repentance is a good way to spring clean our spiritual life. The sacrament of reconciliation is a way of drawing closer to our Savior, and we don’t have to wait until the last few days before Easter Sunday.

Psalm 51:12-14 is a good repentance prayer:

   A clean heart create for me, O God,

     and a steadfast spirit renew within me.

   Cast me not out from your presence,

       and your Holy Spirit take not from me.

   Give me back the joy of your salvation,

       and a willing spirit sustain in me.

 So, as we start on this year’s Lenten journey, we can pray with Ephesians 4:23-24:

    …and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created in

   God’s way in righteousness and holiness of truth.

    

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Topics: Lent, Lenten journey, Lenten season, Sharon Krause, renewing our faith

Airplanes, Birds, and People

Posted by Sharon Krause on Feb 12, 2024 6:00:00 AM

I live near an airport, so I see and hear a number of airplanes above me every day. Recently my husband and I were patiently waiting in our car at a traffic light. Abig jet flew high above us as it headed east preparing to land at the airport. At the same time, a flock of about fifty black birds headed west flew over our car. I noticed the criss-cross of the objects I was watching, and it got me thinking of their different sizes, altitudes, and directions.

The season of Lent will be upon us by next Sunday. In our busy and varied lives, we all go about our agendas in multiple directions, and, you might even say, at various heights of activity. In all the hustle and bustle of approaching springtime, new big and small projects are started, seeds are planted, hopes are formulated. Intellectually, we are at different levels. Goals are in many lofty directions. Energies are prioritized.

Planning is important. Onward and upward! Let us lift ourselves up above winter doldrums. In today’s liturgy reading from the First Letter of James 1:1-11, we are encouraged to persevere and to pray to God for wisdom; so, we should set as a goal to possibly add a little more daily prayer time in preparation for Lent, and, before we know it, Easter. Our loving Lord will help us to rise above our trials and tribulations when we aim to come closer to him. We could decide to seek out a Bible study group or a faith-sharing group. We could mix and match different levels of personal experience with other people pursuing a Lent-inspired flight with the Holy Spirit.

If we want to try to lift ourselves above mundane concerns, we might pray with part of our Blessed Mother’s Magnificat (Luke 1:46-49) and add a few personal thoughts of our own.

   My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;

       my spirit rejoices in God my savior.

                                                                 Today, in February 2024, my soul takes

                                                                  time to consider how great and enduring

                                                                  the love of Jesus is in my life, especially…

   For he has looked upon his handmaid’s

   lowliness;                                              How forgiving is the Lord when I have

                                                                   fallen short! I will be patient with others,

                                                                   even in small things this Lent.

   behold, from now on will all ages call me

   blessed.                                                 I will draw others’ attention to our loving

                                                                   Lord’s blessings, and how to be thankful.

                                                                   I am especially grateful today for……

   The Mighty One has done great things for

       me, and holy is his name.            I will try to do some kind and loving

                                                                  things today for (names of others ) and

                                                                  I will praise God’s holy name.

 So, may we rise to new heights little by little, day by day! May we each use our own range of gifts and talents and encourage others to do the same. Let’s fly high!

   

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Topics: Lent, Lent prayer, Lenten journey, Lenten season, Sharon Krause, renewing our faith

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