A Series of Quotes from the Cloud of Unknowing: Sin Destroyed and Goodness Nourished

killing-sinIn Chapter 12, Anonymous tells his novice “That in contemplation sin is destroyed and every kind of goodness is nourished”:

And so to stand firmly and avoid pitfalls, keep to the path you are on.  Let your longing relentlessly beat upon the cloud of unknowing that lies between you and your God.  Pierce that cloud with the keen shaft of your love, spurn the thought of anything less than God, and do not give up this work for anything For the contemplative work of love by itself will eventually heal you of all the roots of sin Fast as much as you like, watch far into the night, rise long before dawn, discipline your body, and if it were permitted – which it is not – put out your eyes, tear out your tongue, plug up your ears and nose, and cut off your limbs; yes, chastise your body with every discipline and you would still gain nothing.  The desire and tendency toward sin would remain in your heart…

The work of love not only heals the roots of sin, but nurtures practical goodness.  When it is authentic you will be sensitive to every need and respond with a generosity unspoiled by selfish intent.  Anything you attempt to do without this love will certainly be imperfect, for it is sure to be marred by ulterior motives.

Genuine goodness is a matter of habitually acting and responding appropriately in each situation, as it arises, moved always by the desire to please God.  He alone is the pure source of all goodness and if a person is motivated by something else besides God, even though God is first, then his virtue is imperfect.  This is evident in the case of two virtues in particular, humility and brotherly love.  Whoever acquires these habits of mind and manner needs no others, for he will posses everything. 

-The Cloud of Unknowing, Chapter 12

Donnie Darko

Now that I’m recommending movies, just have to put down my all time favorite, even if there isn’t much theological import outside of some struggling with the problem of evil.


Close this tab.

Somehow attain this movie.

View.

Clean up the goop spilling out of your ears due to your mind being blown.

Cafe

First movie recommendation on the blog.  Café.  It’s on Netflix.  Theological motifs sprinkled liberally.  The trailer makes it look like a romantic comedy.  It’s not.  That’s like one of six storylines running through the film.  Whoever did that trailer should be fired.

You’re going to like the way it looks, I guarantee it.

 

A Series of Quotes from The Cloud of Unknowing: Using One Word

Sketch-2011-02-02-15_21_21In Chapter 7, Anonymous gives practical advice on how avoid distracting thoughts during contemplative prayer…

It is inevitable that ideas will arise in your mind and try to distract you in a thousand ways.  They will question you saying, “What are you looking for, what do you want?”  To all of them you must reply, “God alone I seek and desire, only him.”

If they ask, “Who is this God?”, tell them that he is the God who created you, redeemed you, and brought you to this work.  Say to your thoughts, “You are powerless to grasp him.  Be still.”  Dispel them by turning to Jesus with loving desire.  Don’t be surprised if your thoughts seem holy and valuable for prayer.  Probably you will find yourself thinking about the wonderful qualities of Jesus, his sweetness, his love, his graciousness, his mercy.  But if you pay attention to these ideas they will have gained what they wanted of you, and will go on chattering until they divert you even more to the thought of his passion.  Then will come ideas about his great kindness, and if you keep listening they will be delighted.  Soon you will be thinking about your sinful life and perhaps in this connection you will recall some place where you have lived in the past, until suddenly, before you know it, your mind is completely scattered.

And yet they were not bad thoughts.  Actually, they were good and holy thoughts, so valuable, in fact, that anyone who expects to advance without having meditated often on his own sinfulness, the Passion of Christ, and the kindness, goodness, and dignity of God, will most certainly go astray and fail in his purpose.  But a person who has long pondered these things must eventually leave them behind beneath a cloud of forgetting if he hopes to pierce the cloud of unknowing that lies between him and his God.  So whenever you feel drawn by grace to the contemplative work and are determined to do it, simply raise your heart to God with a gentle stirring of love.  Think only of God, the God who created you, redeemed you, and guided you to this work.  Allow no other ideas about God to enter your mind.  Yet even this is too much.  A naked intent toward God, the desire for him alone, is enough.

If you want to gather all your desire into one simple word that the mind can easily retain, choose a short word rather than a long one.  A one-syllable word such as “God’ or “love” is best.  But choose one that is meaningful to you.  Then fix it in your mind so that it will remain there come what may.  This word will be your defense in conflict and peace.  Use it to beat upon the cloud of darkness above you and to subdue all distractions, consigning them to the cloud of forgetting beneath you.  Should some thought go on annoying you demanding to know what you are doing, answer with this one word alone.  If your mind begins to intellectualize over the meaning and connotations of this little word, remind yourself that its value lies in its simplicity.  Do this and I assure you these thoughts will vanish.  Why?  Because you have refused to develop them with arguing. 

- The Cloud of Unknowing, Chapter 7

A Series of Quotes from The Cloud of Unknowing: A Cloud of Forgetting

guy-forgettingIn Chapter 5, Anonymous counsels that “during contemplative prayer, all created things and their works must be buried beneath the cloud of forgetting.”

If you wish to enter into this cloud, to be at home in it, and to take up the contemplative work of love as I urge you to, there is something else you must do.  Just as the cloud of unknowing lies above you, between you and your God, so you must fashion a cloud of forgetting beneath you, between you and every created thing.  The cloud of unknowing will perhaps leave you with the feeling that you are far from God.  But no, if it is authentic, only the absence of a cloud of forgetting keeps you from him now.  Every time I say “all creatures,” I refer not only to every created thing but also to all their circumstances and activities.  I make no exception.  You are to concern yourself with no creature whether material or spiritual nor with their situation and doings whether good or ill.  To put it briefly, during this work you must abandon them all beneath the cloud of forgetting.

For although at certain times and in certain circumstances it is necessary and useful to dwell on the particular situation and activity of people and things, during this work it is almost useless.  Thinking and remembering are forms of spiritual understanding in which the eye of the spirit is opened and closed upon things as the eye of a marksman is on his target.  But I tell you that everything you dwell upon during this work becomes an obstacle to union with God.  For if you mind is cluttered with these concerns there is no room for him.

- The Cloud of Unknowing, Chapter 5

Boyd on Open Theism

Greg Boyd.  Open Theism.  Watch if interested.

And more fully…

 

And then if you’re just like, “Open theism!  Open theism!  I just can’t get enough open theism!  I just want to sit around all day watching videos about his theological construct!”  Go here.

A Series of Quotes from The Cloud of Unknowing: Contemplative Work of the Spirit

cloudThe Cloud of Unknowing is an anonymously written 14th Century mystical text.  Standing in the line of St. John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, Meister Eckhart, and drawing on Dionysius the Areopagite, its author aims to instruct souls in the way of contemplation.

It will blow your mind.

In this first excerpt, our author describes “How contemplation shall be done, and its excellence over all other works”…

“This is what you are to do: lift your heart up to the Lord, with a gentle stirring of love desiring him for his own sake and not for his gifts.  Center all your attention and desire on him and let this be the sole concern of your mind and heart.  Do all in your power to forget everything else, keeping your thoughts and desires free from any involvement with any of God’s creatures or their affairs whether in general or particular.  Perhaps this will seem like an irresponsible attitude, but I tell you, let them all be; pay no attention to them.

What I am describing here is the contemplative work of the spirit.  It is this which gives God the greatest delight.  For when you fix your love on him, forgetting all else, the saints and angels rejoice and hasten to assist you in every way – though the devils will rage and ceaselessly conspire to thwart you.   Your fellow men are marvelously enriched by this work of yours, even if you may not fully understand how; the souls in purgatory are touched, for their suffering is eased by the effects of this work; and, of course, your own spirit is purified and strengthened by this contemplative work more than by all others put together.  Yet for all this, when God’s grace arouses you to enthusiasm, it becomes the lightest sort of work there is and one most willingly done.  Without his grace, however, it is very difficult and almost, I should say, quite beyond you.

And so diligently persevere until you feel joy in it.  For in the beginning it is usual to feel nothing but a kind of darkness about your mind, or as it were, a cloud of unknowing.  You will seem to know nothing and to feel nothing except a naked intent toward God in the depths of your being.  Try as you might, this darkness and this cloud will remIan between you and your God. You will feel frustrated, for your mind will be unable to grasp him, and your heart will not relish the delight of his love.  But learn to be at home in this darkness.  Return to it as often as you can, letting your spirit cry out to him whom you love.  For if, in this life, you hope to feel and see God as he is in himself it must be within this darkness and this cloud.  But if you strive to fix your love on him forgetting all else, which is the work of contemplation I have urged you to begin, I am confident that God in his goodness will bring you to a deep experience of himself.”

- The Cloud of Unknowing, Chapter III

The Cloud of Unknowing: and The Book of Privy Counseling (Image Book Original)

Quakers

QuakerOatsI’m drawn to mysticism.

I don’t know how I got here, but the experience of God in the quiet of my own soul seems to be just about the only thing that matters to me religiously anymore.  Not that this experience doesn’t lead to other important things.  The active life is almost always a major part of the day to day existence of the saints.  But, as I see it, to be truly effective, the active life requires the passive life.

As Aldous Huxley observes:

“Action…should be something added to the life of prayer, not something taken away from it.  One of the reasons for this recommendation is strictly utilitarian; action that is ‘taken away from the life of prayer’ is action unenlightened by contact with Reality, uninspired and unguided; consequently it is apt to be ineffective and even harmful.”

One group of Christians who take this idea very seriously are the Quakers.  Quakers are weird.  And awesome. 

Quakers trace their decent back to a radical English preacher named George Fox.  In the mid 1600’s, Fox riled up the Church of England by passionately preaching two fundamental doctrines: (1) every human being is indwelled by the “Light of Christ,” and (2) this Light is the only ultimately reliable spiritual authority.  These ideas pissed off both the Church and society at large.  The Church didn’t like ultimate “spiritual authority” taken from priests, ministers, creeds, or the Bible, and noble society didn’t like the implication that every human being was equal in the sight of God, regardless of class, gender, etc.  Fox wasn’t a real popular guy.

I suspect, I know, he wouldn’t be popular among Evangelical churches today.  Because you just can’t put anything above the Bible.  Your “inner Light” (especially the so called “Light” of a non-Christian!) must submit to Scripture, not the other way around.

And I get that.  Scripture is concrete (at least at a surface glance); a Rock.  It’s a text, not some vague feeling.  Fox would be denounced as New Age.  And if the Christian Scriptures could hold the weight that is placed upon them by Evangelicals and the doctrine of inerrancy, I would be right their with them.  It would be nice to have that Rock.  But to Quakers, the only Rock is the Spirit of God.  The inner leading of the Holy Ghost.  And their gatherings reflect this.

Straight from the literature of a local Quaker congregation:

There are two aspects of our Meetings for Worship.

The first is the silence of group worship, in which we gather in the Presence of the Spirit to hear, inwardly, the ministry of God to us individually and as a group.  A Meeting in which this Presence is sensed strongly is called a ‘covered or gathered Meeting.’  In such a Meeting, we are led to listen most of the time in silence to the ministry of the Inward Light, since this silence may say more to us than any spoken ministry.

The second aspect of the Meeting is the spoken ministry, in which the Spirit of God moves one or more particular individuals to speak a message of ministry to the whole Meeting.  Many Friends have described the true leading to speak as a strong impulse which makes them so uncomfortable that they are unable to keep their seats but feel that they must speak.”

Like I said, weird right?  They just sit around in silence and if someone feels that they have a word for the congregation from the “Inward Light” (i.e. God), they share.  Weird.  And Awesome.  They even give themselves a weird alternate name…the Society of Friends.  Umm…cult anybody?

But I love it.  I went to a Meeting last week.  We just sat together for an hour in silence.  One man shared something about his father for about 5 minutes.  It was great.

 

There are two aspects of our Meetings for Worship

The first is the silence of group worship, in which we gather in the Presence of the Spirit to hear, inwardly, the ministry of God to us individually and as a group. A Meeting in which this Presence is sensed strongly is called a “covered or gathered. Meeting. In such a Meeting, we are led to listen most of the time in silence to the ministry of the Inward Light, since this silence may say more to us than any spoken ministry.

The second aspect of Meeting is the spoken ministry, in which the Spirit of God moves one or more particular individuals to speak a message of ministry to the whole Meeting. Many Friends have described the true leading to speak as a strong impulse which makes them so uncomfortable that they are unable to keep their seats but feel that they must speak. John Woolman described it as “that rise which prepares the creature to stand like a trumpet, through which the Lord speaks to his flock”.

– See more at: http://www.tcfm.org/article/on-speaking-in-meeting-for-worship#sthash.ru9W7jaZ.dpuf

There are two aspects of our Meetings for Worship

The first is the silence of group worship, in which we gather in the Presence of the Spirit to hear, inwardly, the ministry of God to us individually and as a group. A Meeting in which this Presence is sensed strongly is called a “covered or gathered. Meeting. In such a Meeting, we are led to listen most of the time in silence to the ministry of the Inward Light, since this silence may say more to us than any spoken ministry.

The second aspect of Meeting is the spoken ministry, in which the Spirit of God moves one or more particular individuals to speak a message of ministry to the whole Meeting. Many Friends have described the true leading to speak as a strong impulse which makes them so uncomfortable that they are unable to keep their seats but feel that they must speak. John Woolman described it as “that rise which prepares the creature to stand like a trumpet, through which the Lord speaks to his flock”.

– See more at: http://www.tcfm.org/article/on-speaking-in-meeting-for-worship#sthash.ru9W7jaZ.dpuf

Impermanence

 

Everything, everywhere, always, changes.
Everything, everywhere, always, ends.

You can hold tight, but time is a grease;
and Heraclitus never stands in the same river twice.
It’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.

So give thanks for today.

 

 

Allison on the Luminous Dusk

The Luminous Dusk: Finding God in the Deep, Still PlacesOne last Allison quote for a while.  Maybe eventually I will start writing my own thoughts down again, but they just pale in comparison…

“The luminous dusk, the unspent, dark cloud of God’s glory, lies beyond a door that is buried, in the words of Teresa of Avila, ‘in the extreme interior, in some very deep place within.’  Although only God’s grace can open the door, we can at least do our best to stand before the doorway.  We do this by temporarily abandoning, during prayer and meditation, the world of the five senses, by declining to look at or listen to or think about the things around us.  Darkness and stillness then become our collaborators, helping us to drag our attention away from this world of divertissement to the numinous world that hold the neglected fountain of divine light.  The testimony of the saints is that this fountain, although hidden, can be found, or rather revealed, and that, when this happens, we are remade – and then sent back into the everyday, material world to do our mundane tasks with renewed life.  Is this not the one great end to which we, on behalf of the whole world, should direct all our prayers?”

-Dale Allison, the Luminous Dusk

Allison on Ignorance and Prayer

ignorance“The human mind, however precious, is an oasis of knowledge in a desert of ignorance that extends infinitely in all directions.  And this is to speak only of the world of space and time.  If there is a divine reality beyond or behind this one, our knowledge of it must be even more circumscribed.

I find it helpful in this connection to think about my dog Ralph, who is more German Shepherd than anything else.  Ralph knows that his food is kept in a large bag in the kitchen cabinet, and also that when I go to that cabinet with his dog bowl in hand, he is about to enjoy a meal.  That is why he then barks with excitement.  Ralph further knows that rubbing his large paws and whiskered nose against the cabinet in my presence communicates hunger, and that turning over his empty water bowl will get it filled immediately.  Regarding his food and water, then, Ralph can think well enough.

There is, however, a fixed limit to his understanding.  He does not know that bags of dog food come from a grocery store, a thing for which he has no concept.  He does not know that a store has products because there are trucking lines.  And he knows nothing about the agricultural operations or the manufacturing processes that result in bags of food.  Such knowledge is too high for him; he cannot attain it.

These are things, moreover, that he can never understand.  I could spend every waking hour trying to instruct him about the long chain of events that puts dog food in the kitchen cabinet.  But it would all be in vain, for his mind is constricted.  Beyond a knowledge of certain facts about the cabinet and his bowl, there is only fog.  His mind runs out….

In some respects we remain forever like the dogs.  So even if I do not understand exactly what I am doing – or, rather, what God is doing – when I pray, I shall continue to pray.  I shall continue to ask for the good things, for myself and others.  Petitioning the Deity is too much a part of the tradition I love and trust for me to pluck it out and throw it away.  I moreover take some comfort in the knowledge that such petitioning is an almost inescapable activity of human beings.  Surveys tell us that even most atheists pray to God for help once in a while.  To pray is to be human.  Why then should I deny my nature, especially when I believe that God fashioned it?  I see no reason to disobey the invitation of the liturgist: ‘Let us pray.'”

- Dale Allison, The Luminous Dusk

Allison on Celebrities and the Need for Heroes

kanye-west“If there is indeed an instinct to emulate what appears before us, then at present we must be emulating celebrities.  Observation confirms the inference.  Celebrities are trendsetters.  Who first models our hairstyles?  Our skirt lengths? Our eyewear?  Now this is not itself objectionable.  Nor do I protest that so many celebreities, stained by riotous living, are decadent, unworthy of emulation.  The problem is more fundamental.  It is that celebrities are not heroes – that is, they are, even when upright, too small to do us any good.  Celebrities are, as their numbers necessitate, average people.  This is why their sins – extramarital affairs, multiple divorces, drinking binges – are so humdrum.  They are just like us.  But to look at ourselves is to emulate ourselves, which means giving up ‘ought’ for ‘is.’  To look in a mirror does not expand one’s horizons.  We need rather to dream, which is what heroes and poets, not celebrities, make us do.

Christopher Lasch is right: celebrities are welcome in the culture of narcissism because the narcissistic individual lacks the courage and imagination to change the self into the not-self; and whereas this is precisely the helpful demand implicitly made by traditional heroes, celebrities are not imperatives.  With them there are no surprises, and we can be ourselves – a frightful notion, if one is honest.  Celebrities do not encourage the humble thing, which is the reasonable thing: finding our lives by losing them.  As Meister Eckhart observed, ‘Those who would be what they ought to be must stop being what they are.’

Where is the sanity in attending to the ordinary when the imperatives upon us – ‘Go the extra mile,’ ‘Do not let the left hand know what the right hand is doing,’ Be perfect in love, even as the heavenly Father is perfect’ – are so extraordinary?  The chief objection to Jesus’ moral injunctions has always been that they are too difficult: the Kingdom of God is Utopia.  As the Jew in Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho remarked, the Gospel teachings are ‘so wonderful and so great that I suspect no one can keep them.’

Leaving for another occasion defense of Jesus’ ever-receding moral ideal, one thing is evident: the pious require models of old-fashioned heroic proportion, and narratives that reveal the possibilities and obligations of being ‘in the law of Christ.’  If democracy, historical criticism, the hermeneutics of suspicion, an exaggerated belief in progress, our doubts about the value of adventure, and the incessant distractions of the mass media take these things from us, then the game is up – we have lost our souls.  These dragons that have captured our heroes must be either tamed or slain, so that our moral imaginations can, once again, be pressed down, shaken together, and running over.

Hebrews 11 says this: ‘They conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, received promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.’  We should, against the modern habit, hold these for memories, that they might hold us.  Our amnesia should not be for heroes, whose virtues are our sunlight, but for their modern usurpers, who represent the ordinary condition of humanity, which so obviously tends toward sin and sloth and mediocrity.  Celebrities do not conquer kingdoms, enforce justice, receive promises, stop the mouths of lions, quench raging fires, escape the edge of the sword, win strength out of weakness, become mighty in war, put enemies to flight.  Why exchange gold for pyrite?”

- Dale Allison, The Luminous Dusk

Huxley on Mortification

i_love_mortification_t_shirts-ree885eec746f42b59b161a5a629126fa_804gy_512“Our kingdom go” is the necessary and unavoidable corollary of “Thy kingdom come.”  For the more there is of self, the less there is of God.  The divine eternal fulness of life can be gained only by those who have deliberately lost the partial, separative life of craving and self-interest, of egocentric thinking, feeling, wishing, and acting.  Mortification or deliberate dying to self is inculcated with an uncompromising firmness in the canonical writings of Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism and most of the other major and minor religions of the world, and by every theocentric saint and spiritual reformer who has ever lived out and expounded the principles of the Perennial Philosophy.  But this “self-naughting” is never (at least by anyone who knows what he is talking about) regarded as an end in itself.  It possesses merely an instrumental value, as the indispensable means to something else.

- Aldous Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy

Let Your ‘Yes’ Be ‘Yes’

“Let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ be ‘No.’  Anything more than these is from the evil one.”
-Jesus

Because this is what happens when you don’t tell the truth…

A Doodle

emptying and filling

Am I getting into Art Therapy?

I misspelled generosity.  That’s uncharacteristic of my spelling prowess.

Cultivating Gratefulness

gratefulSo last year I got into reading a little positive psychology…the art of how to be happy.  Read a few books (like this one), browed a bunch of blog posts (like this one), watched a few documentaries, thought about it quite a bit.  Some of it is pure BS.  Some of it isn’t.  But it was an interesting little phase of thought that I’m not sure I’m out of yet.

One of the pieces of the positive psychology research surrounds cultivating gratefulness.  Learning to count your blessings, see silver linings, and ultimately alter your day to day, minute to minute, perception of life, from focusing on negatives to focusing on positives.

I think this is one of the aspects of positive psychology that isn’t BS.

I have a ridiculous amount of things to be grateful for, but I would say my default setting, the way my mind naturally works, is to focus on the negative aspects of my life.  I’ve always thought like a pessimist, and I have a tendency to see the problems in my life as all-encompassing.  Like my whole life is one big problem.  When I get to thinking that way I’m miserable and sad.  It sucks.  So I’m trying to stop that.

One of the ways that you can supposedly do that is to set aside specific times to count your blessings.  Literally list them off, maybe out loud, maybe on paper, maybe in your mind.  I have been trying to list 10 things I’m grateful for in the morning and 10 things before bed.  I usually forget to do it before bed.  But I’m trying.  So I’m going to take a little time right now and list off some things that I am grateful for.  Things that I take for granted but are awesome.  Things that I should consider blessings from God.

1. I have hot water in the morning.  Every morning.  I can rub it on my body.
2. I have a shelter that keeps me warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
3. I have a bunch of really good friends who sometimes bake me things and always make me laugh.
4. My mom and dad love me.
5. I have a mom and dad that I actually know.
6. My brother and sister in law are awesome people.
7. I ate Chipotle yesterday.  I can eat Chipotle whenever I want.  And I can get chips.
8. Happy hours exist.  I can get beer there.
9. I get summers off to do whatever the heck I want.  Like go to happy hours.
10. I can run around and play basketball.  My quickness makes up for a poor 3 point shot.
11. I was able to afford to go to college and I went to an awesome college.
12. I have a sexy Honda Civic.
13. I will probably never be hungry for an extended time unless it’s by choice.
14. My grandma sends me fudge on Valentine’s Day.  Tasty tasty fudge.
15. I go to an awesome church.
16. I had a chance to talk to a kid about his credit situation and graduating high school today.  Maybe it made a difference.
17. I have meaningful employment.
18. Dogs exist and are bearers of unconditional love.
19. The sun is out and it shines on me.  It makes my face warm and releases endorphins in my brain.
20. I have really good neighbors.
21. Apples grow on trees and we can eat them.  And we can genetically engineer Honeycrisps.
22. I have leisure time to read mind-bending literature.
23. I have my choice in what to do with the rest of my life.
24. I have a wide variety of teas to brew at will.
25. I’m going to go make some tea right now.

Twenty-five seems like a good place to stop.  I want to cultivate gratefulness.  It doesn’t mean I’ll never be sad.  It doesn’t mean that I won’t have days where my whole life seems like a problem.  But it helps.  It helps me fulfill the mission of loving people.  Because getting lost in your own crap makes you depressed and self-centered, unable to care about anything but you.  Living a grateful life opens me up to loving, serving, and building up others.  And that, I have decided, is what it’s all about.

Used this TED video in class the other day.  The whole thing might be a little bit overdone, but still…take a look.  And cultivate gratfulness…

 

Someone

someone

Today someone was hit by a car.  The car drove away and the person died.
Today someone’s child was shot in a park.  It was a stray bullet.  They rushed him to the hospital, but the child didn’t make it.
Today someone is taking care of her husband who doesn’t recognize her because of Alzheimer’s.  She will take care of him for 20 more years, and he will never again know who she is.
Today someone watched their child starve to death.  Literally, they watched the child as he died because there wasn’t enough food for everyone in the village to survive.
Today someone put a gun to their head because they felt unloved.

Today a turtle got run over on the road.

Today someone was beaten by their spouse.
Today someone committed adultery.  His wife knows but lives with it because she doesn’t want to be alone.
Today someone was asked for a divorce.
Today someone made the decision to let his child grow up knowing only his mother.  That child will live an angry life.
Today a young girl was raped by her uncle.  She will be raped again tomorrow.
Today someone found out that they will be blind in a year because of a degenerative eye condition.
Today someone lost both their legs.
Today someone told their child they were stupid.  The child believed her.
Today someone will spend the night outside.  The wind chill will be 5 degrees below zero.  They are wearing pants soiled with urine.  They ate half of a sandwich they found in a garbage can yesterday.

Lent is a time to mourn.  There are things to mourn.