40 Days with the Holy Spirit

“Ready, Set, Go” - The Week of Ash Wednesday

What’s “your plan, your place, your pattern” for these 40 days? Jack Levison challenges us in the Introduction to make a plan so that we will pause each day for this Lenten discipline. (Yes, the Introduction is important - make sure you take time to read it!) As you make your plan, it might be helpful to remember the 40 days of Lent don’t include the Sundays which means you have an extra day each week to catch up if the need arises.

My husband does his reading early, as in 5:00 a.m. early. It works for him. I can’t do that. I learned years ago that if I try to sit and read before about 7:00 a.m. the book becomes my pillow, or I read the same line seven times and still don’t know what I’ve read. When we were first married, Jeff’s work day started at 7:30 and he had a 30 minute commute. I love my husband but I also loved those moments after he left and I had quiet time with God before my 5 minute commute to work. (Wasn’t I blessed! Who gets to commute 5 minutes in the D.C. suburbs?)

These days, the house isn’t quiet at 7:00 a.m. Usually, one of the dogs is underfoot while someone is frantically looking for a missing uniform shirt or forgotten book. Quiet time must wait until everyone is out the door. Then, I can make a cup of tea, gather my books and pens and sit at the kitchen table looking out at the wind gently blowing through the piney woods and the birds at the feeder. Most days, this will be my plan. Some days, early commitments will require some extra forethought - perhaps lunch or later in the evening. It is a commitment; but it is worth it.

What’s your plan? Share it here on the blog or, if you are meeting with a study group, share it with your group. At the Lenten luncheon Dr. Levison shared an idea for preparing for group study. He suggested group members choose a colored pen to have on hand during their daily devotion. Other pens and highlighters might be used for personal notes, but one color would be used to underline and write notes that you want to share with the group.

Not sure what to share? This week consider the following:
1. Share your plan, your place, your pattern. Listen to what works for others. There is no right answer except what works for you.

2. Having read the Introduction, where did you “cut your teeth on Christianity” (xiii)? What did you learn about the Holy Spirit there?

3. As you start these 40 days, what do they represent for you? (See the bottom of xvi)

4. Discuss the different images for the Spirit found in the study this week, for example, an eagle hovering over the fledgling creation (2), or simply our breath (5-6).

5. There is a balance to breathing - in and out. This week’s readings speak of both constraint and abandonment (letting go). How were you affirmed, challenged, inspired by these ideas:
•Habit “carved out of the cliffs of chaos and despair” (6).
•“Losing control isn’t a hallmark of inspiration” (9).
•“Daniel let go and abandoned - which is certainly different from . . .sitting still” (13)!

Throughout the Lenten season, small groups are meeting to discuss "40 Days with the Holy Spirit" by Dr. Jack Levison. As you reflect on this text, share your thoughts and questions here on the blog. Check back often, join the conversation in the comment section, and read along if you’d like! (Copies of the book are for sale in the church office 903-597-6317.)

Many thanks to The Rev. Pamela Leach, who contributed to this post.