Year 11 Retreat and Ash Wednesday
Rev. Dr Katherine Rainger – Senior Chaplain
By Rev. Dr Katherine Rainger, Senior Chaplain
I had the privilege of accompanying the Year 11s on their retreat at Greenhills Centre last week. It was great to see them connecting as a cohort and enjoying a huge range of activities.
One of the conversations that we had on retreat was about caring for the spiritual part of who we are, along with caring for our physical, social, emotional and cognitive health. Spirituality is the desire to connect with something bigger than ourselves and find meaning and purpose in life.
I shared with the group that I nurture my spirituality by lighting a candle in my home to remind me of God’s presence. I also light a candle when I am asked to pray for someone as a tangible symbol of holding them before God.
Time and place can also be expressions of our spirituality. Today is Ash Wednesday which marks the first day of Lent. In the Christian calendar, the season of Lent is the 40 days before Easter. It is traditionally a time of fasting before the feast and celebration of Jesus’ resurrection at Easter.
Lent can be a good time to reflect on our lives and ask ourselves, “What can I let go of at the moment that will bring life to myself and others?” or “What can I take up that will bring life to myself and others?”
On Ash Wednesday, people receive a mark of ashes in the shape of the cross on their wrists or foreheads. The symbolism of Ash Wednesday is multifaceted. It includes coming before God and remembering that we are finite beings who are connected with the earth around us. The dust represents our lives with all the disappointments, failures, passions and limitations that come with being human.
In the dust of the ashes, there is also the energy of transformation.
Basketball on a dirt court proved to be a very popular spontaneous activity during the Year 11 retreat. The dust rose to knee height as energetic feet moved and played. After some rain the dust settled and compacted, and the play continued.
May you find time to play in the dust this Lent. To sit with the pain and messiness of life, and to be surprised by the mercy, joy and grace that is ever present.
Wishing all who celebrated a belated Happy Lunar New Year!
Blessings for the week ahead.