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Wednesday, March 1 Lent Calendar* Invite: Attend Holden Evening Prayer. Smile more today, especially at strangers. Take notice of people instead of just hurrying by.

If you are following the Lent calendar version for Ascension Lutheran Church & School, today’s invite includes “attend Holden Evening Prayer.” Holden is one of my favorite services. Anyone in the Thousand Oaks, CA area is welcome to come in person to Holden Evening Prayer at 7:00 PM on Wednesdays during Lent; if you aren’t in the area, you can watch via livestream (I would suggest watching it in a room lit only by candlelight). Holden is a long tradition at Ascension for which I am thankful. I love the simple music, the prayer time in candle light, the peacefulness of the service. I always think, “Who doesn’t need a little more peacefulness in the middle of the week?” For my family and me, Holden Evening Prayer and Lent go hand in hand.

My great niece was born last August. Whenever the family gathers, we all love to make Rosie smile. Think of how we love to get babies to smile. Perhaps we should do more to help us grown ups smile, too.

Today’s other Lent invitation is to smile more, especially at strangers. Ponder how often you pause to really notice someone. How often do you exchange a smile? What might prevent you from taking note of someone and smiling? Is it because you are too hurried? Is it because you are shy or timid? Is it because you are fearful of people you don’t know? Is it because you are stuck inside your head and not really paying attention?

On the first day of every month (happy March, by the way), my Celtic Daily Prayer book includes this quote from Anne Morrow Lindbergh: “Hurry is an unpleasant thing in itself but also very unpleasant for whoever is around it. Some people came into my room and rushed in and rushed out and even when they were there they were not there - they were in the moment ahead or the moment behind. Some people who came in just for a moment were all there, completely in that moment.” I need this reminder every month. I want live an unhurried life.

One of the things that I love about Jesus is that he always seems to notice people. He notices the outcasts, the people on the margins. He notices people’s joy and hurt and fear and pain and frustration and yearning. He sees people, really sees them. We humans long to be seen and heard and understood. So today, see people and smile, for a smile helps the world to feel warmer, gentler, kinder.

*Find the daily Lent calendar here; or for the Lent calendar more specific to Ascension Lutheran Church, go here.

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