Ash Wednesday is one of my favorite days of the liturgical year. It is the beginning of Lent when I can reflect on the year and make a sincere effort to examine my conscience and practice the acts that help me to grow as a spiritual being. The ashes remind of the impermanence of existence and the need to join mind and body each day in meditation. It is a time to notice what is around me – sight, sounds, and my environment and all sentient beings that occupy that environment. It is often too easy not to notice the person that is homeless, the veteran that suffered injuries, or to take for granted clean air and water.
I hope to begin Lent by choosing a church home for the next year. I’ve visited all the churches listed in the table and some for extended periods of time. I am always hoping to find a parish that is as peaceful and mindful as the Zen Center and is as concerned about not just humanity, but all life and the environment that makes life possible.
As I visited parishes I considered my first impressions and wondered why I felt so much more comfortable and welcomed at the Missouri Zen Center. I think it is the same reason I found Sts. Claire and Francis, which is an Ecumenical Catholic Church, welcoming. In both places everyone introduced themselves at each gathering and there is no judgment and no doubt that we take refuge in the community and in our shared practice. Yet, my heart calls me to a Roman Catholic Church where all are welcome. How would you decide?
*The women that cook meals at Immacolata are welcoming and kind, but it didn’t make up for the man that insisted I move to another seat.
Key to smiley faces: