Monday, February 22, 2010

Metanoia


I have been thinking about this problem of Lent. Like many of my sisters whose children have vanished from our lives, I don't see the need to "manufacture" a time of attentiveness to sorrow, to repentance, to sin, to error. I am very, very attentive to all of those things. I don't need a separate season in which to immerse myself in awareness and regret. I am consumed by them.

The word metanoia is the Greek word for repentance, for turning. In Hebrew, shuv means return. Return to me with your whole heart, says the prophet. Many sermons delivered during this time of year reflect upon one or both of those words.

What would I say, if I had to say something? Return is no longer in my vocabulary.

Turn?

To something new?

Incline. Perhaps incline.

Incline implies a certain hesitance, a degree of fragility, an experimental move.

Incline.

So here's the deal. I bought myself a Christmas present, an SLR digital camera with an extra (slightly) telephoto lens, and I took it to the Keys over Christmas, and The Quiet Husband ended up in the hospital, and so I know nothing at all about my new camera.

On Thursday I take my last final exam and then I have 18 days before I have to go back to school. I have a lot to do during those two weeks, including a paper in which I have to address some unintelligible material, but no long drives and a lot of the intensity of my life temporarily removed therefrom.

I am going to learn a little about my new camera during the first week, and I am going to take it with me for a couple of retreat days the second week, and I am going to start photographing the words metanoia and shuv.

I have absolutely no idea what means. But I don't think I can start to live them until I see them, really see them, in unexpected ways.

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(Image: Twisted Oak by Tess Kohrnak, here. I tried google-imaging the word metanoia, and found nothing helpful, and then I tried the word twisted, and this is what I came up with. I don't mean twisted in a negative kind of way, but in a turned, inclined kind of way. I wonder what I will come up with for myself.)

13 comments:

Purple said...

I look forward to your insights and photography.

sidenote: as I was doing sermon prep for the first Sunday in Lent, I came across a bit different understanding of metanoia.

"to go beyond the mind you have"

Gannet Girl said...

I like that, Purple.

Mrs. M said...

This practice seems very, very special to me.

karen gerstenberger said...

This sounds very interesting. I'll look forward to seeing/reading what you discover. I have always loved the concept of "metanoia" in place of "repent."

Magdalene6127 said...

I'll be excited to see/ hear about what you discover. I find this Lent I have a kind of aversion to the concept of repentance. So I'm doing something different... I hope it's ok (for the congregation, and for me).

I love what purple said.

Mompriest said...

repentance is never a strong focal point for me - I tend to be hard on myself as it is...

I like the idea of incline - angled toward or angled from, leaning toward, leaning in, inclination....and, to go beyond the mind you have...curious ideas to ponder....

Cynthia said...

This is a wonderful challenge, and I'm looking forward to seeing your photography.

Karen said...

It's all greek to me. No familiarity with Lent at all, being a plain and humble non-liturgical evangelical. But I do need to repent at times, mostly to my husband. Otherwise, I agree with the idea that there is no need to manufacture suffering--there's plenty to go around.

BTW, the camera journey sounds inspired.

Beach Walkin said...

On Ash Wed... I sat in my living room... with a friend... who told me some unbloggable stuff. When she left... I pondered... getting ashes smeared on my forehead... Lent... and pondering sin.

You said in this post... exactly what I felt that day. Thank you!

Stratoz said...

I was going to learn about my new camera on my long retreat last summer, thus I took the manual for the old camera. I hope this project comes into being for you.

Jim said...

Strong message to all "who have ears to hear" in this one. I will be looking forward to where God takes you in this and I offer food for thought concerning a discovery made a few years back. In His sermon on the mount, Christ spoke of the eye being "single" and the whole body being made "full of light". That meaning of that word "single" actually implies the "twisting" of two items together until they become one...

Rev SS said...

Like the others, I look forward to the upcoming pictures and reflections. I agree totally with your insights about Lent ...

Michelle said...

Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer...

My mind is filled with psalms, but this one rose when I read your post. 86, not quite 88, but on it's way there.

Patient Spiritual Director pointed out in a meeting just before Lent began that St. Benedict reminded his monks that while the Church celebrated Lent as a season - his monks lived it all the year 'round. In some ways, I wonder if grief doesn't parallel a monastic enclosure. You are and are not of the world. And there is no turning back, only turning into.

The camera on retreat sounds like a wonderful idea...