February 2015

Lenten prayer: threshold invitations

Prayer takes place in the space on the threshold between the outer and the inner, says Good Samaritan Sister Marie Casamento.

BY Marie Casamento SGS

A wise elder once said to me “where you stand is what you see”. After a recent Sunday gospel from Mark (1:21-28), the words “and Jesus went into the Temple…” continued to remain with me long after I read the text.

The movement of crossing the threshold of the temple from the outside to the inside reminded me of a favourite cartoon of Leunig in which Mr Curly says, “Now it is winter time to go inside”. Prayer, I believe, takes place in this space on the threshold between the outer and the inner. To appreciate the stained glass of an ancient cathedral one must enter in, in order to gaze out.

My reflections led me to prayer, to insight, and to philosophical ponderings culminating in the following poem. As I play with my thoughts and insights, I do so after having watched the final farewell of Tom Uren. I am struck by his journey which had all the elements of a paschal journey of threshold moments of challenge and grace.

In the time leading up to and during the first week of Lent, we are invited to take steps to shift our perspective, to come inside, in order once again to return to the outside..

Threshold Invitations

A layer forms between the inner and outer spirit,
between the inner and outer soul of the matter,
between the physical and emotional,
the psychological and the spiritual;
between the scientific and the imaginary,
between the real and the unreal,
between blind ambition and pure service,
between brutal force and sincere empathy,
between that which is in the past
and that which has not yet come.
That layer, that permeable space
is the now.
Witnesses give silent testimony
to the endurance born of the challenge
to overcome not with violence
but with a determination to proclaim the truth.
Rosie Batty we salute you!
Have mercy on us,
have mercy on us,
have mercy Lord on us
for failing to walk side by side with you to protect women from violence.

“Led by the devil to the top of a mountain”
Jesus embraced the threshold of the challenge
in the outside and the inside.
On the line between the two
the challenge is either to step inside
or to step outside;
to give in and retreat
or to stay with the questions and embrace the pain.
The challenge to face the demons within and without
barrels down in cataclysmic force
like the demoniac possessed.
And in the now
on the threshold the challenge reverberates –
“Be quiet! Come out…”

Be quiet!… be quiet
Be still, take time as if time is no longer time.
Let go… let go… let go.
Be aware of the threshold you stand on.
No physical journey is this crisis point,
but no less arduous
a journey of pilgrimage
that begins on one threshold and ends on another.
Tom Uren we salute you!
Have mercy,
have mercy,
have mercy Christ on us
for failing to speak out about the rape of our earth and its people.

The challenge is to go inside
in order to see the outside
from the perspective of the now,
from the inside of the outside and the outside of the inside.
The threshold emerges ever new, ever transforming, ever enlightening,
ever redeeming, ever emerging.
In Lenten solitude we sit
chained, imprisoned to past bias and behaviour.
In Lenten discipline we kneel
confined to the prison cell of our own making,
confined to the prison cell of others bigotry.
In Lenten stillness we allow the insights to emerge.
At the threshold of the temples of our hearts they stand:
countless refugees who find only closed harbours and locked doors;
war-torn people who face violence and brutality every moment of every day;
those poverty-stricken families in every nation silently begging for recognition –
the sick, the elderly, the mentally ill, the destitute, the battered women,
and those innocents incarcerated, chained
to the distorted thinking of the ruling elite.

The invitation to us remains:
Be still, be still, be quiet.
Stand on the threshold of a new Easter day dawning
and embrace the challenge and the pain
of shifting perspective.
Have mercy
have mercy
have mercy Lord on us
for failing to advocate for the imprisoned in refugee camps
and foreign prisons.
Peter Greste we salute you!

We shake our heads with you Rosie Batty
as you behold injustice and suffering perpetrated against women and children.
We weep with you Tom Uren
as you stand before the burnt-out rainforests of Thailand.
We sit with you Peter Greste as your parents keep their vigil.
We march with you Rosie Batty
as you demand safety and protection for women and children.
And we stand side by side with you Tom Uren
as you welcome all people as your friends
and condemn the brutality of war and violence.
On thresholds anew we rise again with you Peter Greste
as you greet the dawn transformed and rejoicing in life.
The liminal moment is now,
sink your feet into the deep red earth,
feel the sand between your toes,
and await the rising of the new moon.

The invitations awaits us
from the outside of the inside.
We too await the challenge of resurrection.

Author’s note: Journals are perfect for capturing the movement that takes place to the threshold and beyond. Today you can purchase journal pads that allow space for writings, jottings, photos and art work together in the one book. This Lent I encourage you to take up journaling using art, photography and word if you haven’t already explored these avenues.

Marie Casamento

Good Samaritan Sister Marie Casamento has ministered as a teacher, principal and art psychotherapist. Today, as in the past, she endeavours to live the maxim “to attend with a listening heart”. As a resident of Wivenhoe Village, near Camden in NSW, her aim is to be neighbour to all she meets. She enjoys drawing, writing and observing nature.

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