ST. JOHN'S ABBEY COLLEGEVILLE, MN
Some of those years I took the season of Lent to journal my devotions based on a Gospel or spiritual classic planning, after the 40 days, to edit and polish it for use the following year. As a project during one year of my doctoral work, I used the sayings of the desert mothers and fathers to launch the daily devotional--adding themes, scriptures and prayers. Likely, most of you have found it to be true in your own acts of devotion, I learned much preparing such an offering for others.
This Lent however has been a remarkably silent one for me. Surgery at 7 a.m. the morning after Ash Wednesday and a six week recovery has changed what I do and how I do it. But each time I began even just in my mind to bemoan that fact, a deep inward pull stopped me. It's only now, approaching the 5th Sunday in Lent that I'm begining to make sense of it; and here is what I've come to believe:
"We ought not try to give back to God the gift He's giving us."
Or to make it more personal: "I ought not try to give back to God the gift He's given me."
Because I care deeply about the spiritual nurture and growth of those I serve, I've annually run at full bore from Ash Wednesday through Holy Week and Easter. There was the devotional, and an extra adult education class, there was an extra opportunity for worship and sacrament, and many years during Holy Week something each day and night so that busy people could fit spiritual disci-plines and opportunities into their schedules--whether that was a temporary labyrinth, a diorama walk through the events of Holy Week, or something else. With really good intentions, the sacredness and reflection of Lent was 'lost' for me in activity.
However it was gifted back to me this year wrapped in gallbladder surgery and a recovery that they promise me will be complete by Palm Sunday. This season which I can cogently argue is the most important season of the Church year-- came to me wrapped in time and silence and presented to me when I did not expect such a gift. It was extended to me, before I could recognize what it was and before I was able to receive it. Yet the catch in my spirit was trying to tell me something.
Does that happen to you too? Have you ever experienced a catch or a glitch in your spirit? Did you pay attention to it, or ignore it? Did it go away, or were you finally able to discern what God was trying to say or how God was trying to lead you?
The promised Holy Spirit is available to each of us and is the Teacher, Director and Comforter that Jesus said. When we are open, when we listen and when we pay attention the Spirit does reveal God's will and ways to us. I know there have been times I've not been open, not listened and soon the prompting went away. It's only now I realize how much I regret those times.
The Gift of a Silent Lent has reminded me how important it is for my spirit to pause, and to listen. It's helped me slow down from my normal (?) 8 daily cups of caffineated tea life. The Gift of a Silent Lent has given me time to think deeply and realign priorities that my busy life saw nothing wrong with. It's called me more seriously to prayer. The Gift of a Silent Lent has strengthened my spirit and blessed me anew with the knowledge of God's love for my imperfect self.
There are still 15 days left in Lent 2013. How has this season been for you? What has God been speaking into your life? My hope and prayer for you is that you might still have a Silent Lent in which to listen and hear from the One who loves you most. IN JOY AND PEACE, Kathleen Bronagh Weller, THE CELTIC MONK