Megan Turland, left, with fellow blogger Laura- Anne Smid, husband Ben and her daughter. Photo courtesy Megan Turland)

Devotional arises from total team effort

By 
  • April 20, 2019

Megan Turland must have read the story of the resurrected little girl in Mark 5 more than a hundred times.

It is her two-year-old daughter’s favourite story in her children’s picture Bible and almost every day she points to the picture of Jesus calling to the little girl, “Talitha cumi!” (“Little girl, I say to you, arise!”).

“I just started to really reflect on the story and just recognize that all of us, in some way, are in a spiritual slumber,” said Turland, creator of the Catholic women’s blog The Good Soil.

Every time I read her this story and seeing the words, ‘Talitha cumi,’ I felt like God was calling me to rise up.”

This story became the inspiration for ARISE, a 50-day Easter devotional tailored to Catholic women. Turland, 29, collaborated with 23 Canadian women from all stages of life to reflect on what it means to celebrate the newness of life in the Easter season.

ARISE includes an e-book with scriptural reflections and personal testimonies. Participants will also receive a daily prayer in their e-mail inbox. Turland also added discussion guides for fellowship groups.

“(My spiritual director) really challenged me and said we live Lent so intentionally but the Easter season is actually 10 days longer,” she said. “Easter is the pinnacle of our faith, so it’s important that we really celebrate the mystery of the Resurrection.”

Although her spiritual director gave her the idea about two years ago, Turland hadn’t really been thinking about writing a devotional until last November. She had just launched her Toronto-based blog, and she was receiving great affirmations about the thoughts and prayers she had been sharing online.

Drawing from her experience as a Catholic Christian Outreach missionary and campus minister, she decided that she wanted to delve deeper into her spiritual writings. But Turland also knew she couldn’t do it alone.

“It started off as a practical thing of I want this out for this Easter, but I can’t write all 50 days of devotions myself,” she said. “And then, just reflecting on how many amazing, beautiful women there are all over Canada who have a story of how Christ has raised them.”

Her friend, Laura-Anne Smid, was her first call for the ARISE project. Smid, who is a photographer and blogger based in Langley, B.C., had written her own Advent devotional for engaged couples last year.

Her own experience taught her how fruitful it can be to reflect on a season intentionally and she hadn’t heard of an Easter devotional before.

“It’s been a gift to be able to read these personal stories from women of all ages and all stages of life,” said Smid, 27.

Michelle Diment, 49, is one of the contributing writers of the devotional series. As a mother of five children aged eight to 21 years old, she is excited to share with women what it has been like for her to grow through her 20s, 30s and 40s.

“I have lived a lot of Lenten seasons and, to be honest, I can’t say that I’ve ever arrived at Easter and said, ‘Wow, I really rocked this Lent,’ ” said the stay-at-home mom from Calgary. “So for me, to walk in that newness is to claim that Resurrection. Like, Easter is for me, too.”

For Diment, living that “newness of life” is about giving one’s self the permission to live in the freedom of God’s love every day and not be burdened by past failures.

“We have a culture that is very focused on original sin. And it’s true, we’re broken. But we don’t spend enough time honouring that before we had original sin, we were original blessing,” said Susan Gonsz, lay ecclesial minister at St. Patrick’s Parish in Markham, Ont.

After the celebration of Easter Sunday, people tend to go back to the regular rhythm of their daily life. Gonsz said when she was asked to contribute to the ARISE devotional, she was excited to dive into the Easter season more intentionally.

“I’m so excited for women to just have a really honest conversation with God,” said Turland. “My hope is that the devotional can be a springboard for that and that they really experience the Resurrection in new ways.”

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