Joan Chittister: Lent is a Chance to Grieve

Benedictine sister Joan Chittister had a nice column on Lent in Huffington Post last week. Here’s an excerpt:

The scripture for the opening of Lent, Joel 2:12-18, takes us back to a time of great danger in Israel. The land has been ravaged by locusts, the crops are failing. The very life of the population is in question. The prophet Joel, convinced that the people have brought the disaster upon themselves by virtue of their unfaithfulness, summons the House of Israel to repent its ways. But, interestingly enough, he does not call them to attend penance services in the synagogue. He does not require them to make animal sacrifices in the temple. He does not talk about public displays of remorse, the time-honored tearing of garments to demonstrate grief. No, Joel says instead, “Rend your hearts and not your clothing.”

Lent is a call to weep for what we could have been and are not. Lent is the grace to grieve for what we should have done and did not. Lent is the opportunity to change what we ought to change but have not. Lent is not about penance. Lent is about becoming, doing and changing whatever it is that is blocking the fullness of life in us right now.

Lent is a summons to live anew.

From Ash Wednesday and Lent: Beginning Again Always

Video: The Young Are Dreaming Dreams

In June 2009, 19 young Israelis and Palestinians, who have been working together for three years, came together in Tel Aviv to show that music can overcome conflict by creating a unique track and this 5-minute video.

The project is a collaboration between peace organization Windows for Peace and pioneering London-based music college Point Blank Learning. This video ‘Step for Peace’ is the final result of all their hard work.

For me, it’s a contemporary expression of Joel 2:28-29: “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.”

“At first [working on the project] was kind of weird. We all have different stories. We all had a bit of trouble trying to understand each other. Just our traditions are different; we are living different lives. After some time, we got to know each other and be friends.” – Natalie, Palestinian from Bethlehem, 15.

“It has changed my life. Before, I thought Israeli people were bad and that they thought of us as bad. When I met the group it was a shock for me – now I’ve changed my thoughts about Israelis” – Tamara, Palestinian from Bethlehem, 15.

“It’s fantastic we are talking, because we are supposed to be enemies. I came here because I wanted to understand more the other side. It’s hard for me to talk about the hard things [Palestinians] go through. There is something in their voice that blames me and I can’t blame them for that” – Gili, Israeli from Tel Aviv, 14.

“[The song] won’t make people meet the other side, but it will change the way they think about the conflict” – Orin, Tel Aviv resident, 14.