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The following is an excerpt from A Requiem for Love by Calvin Miller.  It speaks of self-denial, discipline and living open handed.  To me it speaks of how I am trying and learning to live during Lent. (Just a couple of notes:  the book is a poetic re-telling of the story of creation and the fall; Sanctuary is the garden of Eden; Regis and Regina are Adam and Eve.)

There’s frost in Sanctuary!”

The Father-Spirit turned his head away in grief.

Regis and Regina were dumbfounded,

To know Earthmaker cried.

You cry because of frost?”

Prince Regis asked.

I weep because you willed

The coming of my enemy.

Notice how his recent presence

Spoils Sanctuary.

Where he stood the grass is dead-

The air too cold for any possibility of life.

Were he to have the scepter he desires

The world itself would die.

Evil lives in Sanctuary at your summons.

See his arctic scar on this good place.

Have you satisfied your longing?

Laid your appetites to rest?

Or, will you seek My enemy again

Till all this garden lies in ruin?

Can you now see how his hate

Can canker entire galaxies,

And spread contagions that infect the very stars?

An awful silence came.

The man and woman, downcast

In their shame, at length

Raised both their heads and pledged,

Father,

Never shall we will

The death of love.”

The Father-Spirit loved them.

“There is only one real power

That you should long to own: Self-denial!

Spend all you have to purchase it.

Lust after chains of servanthood – never thrones of pride.

For servants, worn by willful drudgery,

At last wear diadems.

Bridle all desire: For having what you want,

Will leave you groveling in wantonness.

Feed yourselves with hunger,

Then savor all you slowly eat.

Thus, self-denial will give you richness but keep you from excess,

Use this world, do not consume it.

Never pursue pleasure, rather let it find you…

At the end of every day…

Where you made discipline your friend.

For pleasure never comes in what you hold,

But in what holds on to you – compelling you to care.

Should life call you to be a martyr,

Do not despair

For those who would die for great reasons,

Also find great reasons for their living.

Think not that gaudiness is beauty

But simple ornament

Which lives only to reflect the light around it.

Turn from all desire to have,

Lest what you seek to own,

At last owns you!

Make no hour heavy with doubled greed

Rather let a giving spirit make you rich with sleek humility

That runs through troubled times

Grow rich by giving up your purse.

Lay by your mace and rule.

Release your grasp and in your open hand

You’ll find the world.

Die and greet the life-force

Created by your willful death.

For self-denial does empower the soul,

And those who hold their need to rule at bay,

Are kings and queens with empires in their sway.”

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