Leaning Into The Heart of God – A Reflection on John 13

I offered a reflection on John 13:21-38 at Taize Evening Prayer tonight. It was our last Taize prayer for Lent. These weeks have been a real gift. Plus tonight, my boss was able to attend and he proclaimed the Gospel for me; that was really special. The church may be a giant CF (sorry!) in some ways but it, like Rolheiser points out is also the dwelling place of saints. And those saints might be you or me.

Anyway our Evening Prayer is beautiful – the music is so sublime – you just melt into it. In fact, as I was preparing this post, I realized that is what I talked about and that is what the Taize chant invites you to do… Lean deeply into the heart of God.

The environment is lovely too and I am sorry that this photo does not do this scene justice.  My friend Chris has such a gift for environment and I stand in awe of her talent. The glass bowl containing stones and light also has some sand in the top where we have a charcoal burning; incense is put on and it is gorgeous. 

This was my typed text from last night. It was a bit shorter (although still too long- *sigh*) and I did not read it but spoke from notes, so it was a bit different. So it was not what you see here, but this is close enough and I can’t rewrite it!
 

Holy week – it was a tough week for Jesus. It is a tough week for us Catholics in the present moment. We need to pray and act, but that is not what I am here to talk about tonight. However, when preparing for this, I did come across this quote in reference to the current situation. It is from Ronald Rolheiser, Catholic Priest and author who writes in his book “The Holy Longing”:

“To be connected with the church is to be associated with scoundrels, warmongers, fakes, child-molesters, murderers, adulterers and hypocrites of every description.

It also, at the same time, identifies you with saints and the finest persons of heroic soul of every time, country, race, and gender.

To be a member of the church is to carry the mantle of both the worst sin and the finest heroism of soul because the church always looks exactly as it looked at the original crucifixion, God hung among thieves.” – Ronald Rolheiser, The Holy Longing

I have been reading about Ingatian spirituality lately – the Spiritual exercises. One is encouraged to read Scripture and enter into each of the parts of the story. From where I sit, it is a lot more attractive to want to be the disciple that Jesus loved rather than to be Peter or Judas in today’s Gospel.

However, I can tell you that I don’t have to study the lines in order to be Peter or Judas however – I have a lot of practice.

In any event, we must enter into the story over and over and at some point, and meet God and ourselves in all of them.

We spent all that time in the desert and have returned to Jerusalem. It would seem a relief to be out of the dry and desiccated landscape and back into life. We leave behind the barren landscape and re-enter the lively city. However, Jerusalem is not just any city and to enter it is to know you will not leave it the same person you arrived.

Jesus gets this – the poor apostles, not so much. Have you listened to them? Jockeying for who gets to be the most important? Peter swearing that he would never deny Jesus – something we know he does in a few short hours. Judas thinking about his 30 pieces of silver and whatever else might have attracted him to betray the Lord.

Of course there is the one that Jesus loved, in the endearing image that associate with something that Fr Pat said a few years ago… At rest, with his head on Jesus’ chest. ……….. It is like our opening Taize song – Be still, Be still and know that I am God.

Silent. Listening. Leaning into the heart of God.

Just saying that scares me, I think I might rather be Peter seeking affirmation by promising to be a good boy or, Judas – transactional matters like being in charge of the money is a more antiseptic place. I might like that.

The dynamics of leaning into the heart of God and having God’s heart lean back into me seems much more frightening to me because it is to know and to be known in the most intimate way. God’s love envelops us.

And when that happens, not unlike Mary’s receptivity that we recently commemorated on the Annunciation, it requires openness, transparency and a true lack of defenses.

I’m sweating now, just at the thought of it. It does not mean absenting ourselves but rather simply being who we are, in all of our integrated wholeness. It makes me shudder, can I do that?

Can’t I just go back to managing my time and productivity? Must I really surrender into becoming the person that God has loved me into being? For me, like for Peter, jockeying in my own bumbly way to be number one comes very naturally – you can ask my boss, he’s here.

For Peter, that seemed to mean promising more than he could deliver because he was not promising out of his deep center and his integrity… he was promising out of his wounded ego. I don’t know about you, but I could write a long autobiography just for my wounded ego, let alone the rest of me.

And Judas, where was he coming from? We know that John tells us that when Judas took the morsel, he went out…. Night had fallen. The darkness had come.

Going hard on Judas is easy sport. While he was the lynch pin in the operation of getting Jesus arrested and crucified, we should always remember that if he did not do so, we might not be sitting here

I once heard a story that in some places that Judas Iscariot is revered as a saint because at the moment of his death he understood just what he had done wrong and turned back to God in a moment of true transformation and metanoia. Who knows? I do like the sound of it although it was jarring at first and may sound bad to many.

Whatever happened with Peter, with Judas, with me or with you – its all the same. We get caught in this dyad of good or bad, right or wrong and with Jesus, it might mean just leaning into his chest to hear his heart.

I’m sweating again.

Whatever it is, the darkness does fall – it had to. It had to fall in Jerusalem on that night so long ago and it has to happen to us too.

I’m not suggesting we go headlong into the darkness on purpose and succumb to it, but that we might accept that the darkness comes and that we must stay with Jesus. It is the only way to be transformed.

At least that is what I am told. And if I return to the quote that I opened with and if I think about myself, if I think about so many people I know, if I think about the church at large, it makes perfect sense.

Jesus was not really throwing people out – he was simply pretty clear about how to follow him. The Samaritan woman, tax collectors, the woman caught in adultery, lepers, Judas and Peter himself – there are numerous characters who represent that totally not-in crowd that Our Savior was so often seen with.

And maybe that’s because he understood that you have to have a clear understanding of who you are and how God has made you. Then when the darkness falls… and it always does and more than once, it is about integrating the darkness and not just be in or out of it.

It is a kind metanoia that stretches our imaginations and our hearts to points we might not have wanted, but that we truly need. That stretch of mind, heart and body is what the cross is about.

Of course the way to do that is to lean headlong, deep into the heart of Jesus and just listen. There you will find Light and transformation – which is what Easter is about.

Night has fallen and you can go out into it or you can stay with the Lord and be transformed.



Please – lean in.

Leaving Lent – Entering Holy Week

The Judean Desert, November 2004, photo by me.

I wrote about Lent quite a bit at the beginning, but I have not really kept up with it. So it goes. I really wanted to focus on forgiveness this Lent and to write more about The Forgiveness Project – I told you that.

But that did not happen.


 Signs of green in the desert. My workplace, photo by me.

And suddenly – here we are! There are signs of green in the desert as we work our way to Jerusalem. We may leave the desert behind, but I can assure you, death is on the way.

And then new life.

There is a lot going on in the Church right now that says death is on the way, but even at my worst, I am pretty sure that new life will not be far behind.

The desert has been what it needed to be. I have not really moved as far as I would have liked around forgiveness. I have made some inroads, slight ones, towards reconciling some broken relationships.

However, I have astoundingly broken other ones. *sigh*

 Jerusalem, from the Mount of Olives, May 2006, photo by me.

Anyway, the desert gives way to the city. I am reminded of what a short distance it is from the Judean desert to Jerusalem and how quickly… and starkly, the landscape changes.

And I know, from experience, you can’t go to Jerusalem and leave unchanged. If it doesn’t kill you, it does transform you. Metanoia.

Now to enter Holy Week. Jerusalem, here I come.

Feast of St. Joseph – Some thoughts about inner authority, obedience and discernment

I must admit that I sure do love me some St. Joseph. St. Joseph never utters a word in Scripture, but he is known. He is called to act against his own instincts more than once and in ways that are very challenging indeed.

As a result, St. Joseph always reminds me that there is much to be known when we explore what is woven into all the ambiguity of life. I also like that he is very obedient to the law of his time, yet he is guided within in knowing when and how to respond to contradictions there. The choices of St. Joseph remind me of a quote from Isaac Hecker, founder of the Paulists (and yes, that is friend of the blog and real life, Mike Hayes in that photo!) :

“External authority without the internal life, the inward spirit, produces servility, weakness, on the part of the subject and usurpation, tyranny on the part of authority.


Internal illumination without the external criterion of authority gives birth to pride, self-sufficiency and rebellion, the destruction of legitimate authority and all government.”

The other day when I was on retreat with my co-workers (as opposed to my personal retreat last weekend) I saw the amazing image of St. Joseph that you see at the top of this post. It is not the flight to Egypt, which you might think it is. It is actually called Joseph’s Consent and refers to the Gospel of Matthew from today.



Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
“Joseph, son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
For it is through the Holy Spirit
that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins.”
When Joseph awoke,
he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him
and took his wife into his home.

The intersection of internal authority and conscience, of hearing God’s voice from within and hearing our own is tricky business. Obedience means to listen and not just to react by rote. May we all have the discernment of St. Joseph in the dealings of our lives, today and always.

Planned Obsolescence and Radical Forgiveness – The Ethos of Repair and Replacement

The Ethos of Repair and Reconciliation – A Reflection on

Abba Mios was asked by a soldier: “Father, God then accepts the repentance of the sinner?” The Elder, after counselling him with many instructive words, suddenly asked him:

“Tell me, my beloved, when you tear your uniform, do you throw it away? “No,” the soldier answered, “I sew it and use it anew again.”

Then Abba Mios also thoughtfully told him:
“If you take pity on your clothing, will not God take pity on His own creation?”

The other night I offered a reflection on prayer, fasting and mercy at St. Edward’s Evening Prayer. While working on what I would say, it occurred to me that I thought that fasting was hard… I however had to refocus on the idea that mercy was much harder.

In case I needed any reminding of that, today’s Gospel from Luke is a clear message about what God wants.

God wants us.

In reading the short anecdote about our desert  father, Abba Mios, I really had to pause and think about how the ethos of repair in our culture works its way into the theme of reconciliation.

You may be thinking, “what is she on about now?” Well, here is what I think…

We live in a “throwaway” culture – a culture of planned obsolescence. There is a whole other series of reflections about just that and the mess that our economy and world are in, but I will save that for another day. There are numerous societal, cultural, ecological and economical aspects that can be explored!

In any case, we do inhabit a world in which things are meant to run out of usefulness and break more quickly than they should. That is so that we might get rid of them and go right out and get lots more new stuff that will need to be replaced sooner rather than later.  This goes from everything to clothes and shoes to appliances large and small, houses, cars…

And people?

Well, there is a lot that I could say about people, but I will focus on one aspect and that is forgiveness.

It is so hard to forgive and to be forgiven. What a burden it carries. There is something to be said about going out and just getting some new people. Well – not really, but it does seem that way, doesn’t it. And even if we don’t get some new people, we can certainly find numerous ways to sustain the energy that is required for keeping those that we are angry or hurt with out.

That’s why I think the Abba Mios story is so interesting… It may be harder to comprehend in an era in which our cloak does not get repaired, our sock does not get darned, our torn seam does not get re-sewn… We just get a new one.

However, there are other things that we might expend energy in trying to restore and keep, but either way the emphasis is on things.  Our things mean a lot to us, our stuff.

But what about people?

In the parable of the Prodigal Son, a story so well-known we see a story of truly radical reconciliation.  It is important to have some understanding of Jesus’ time – this kind of event did not happen lightly.

The father is clearly out there waiting for his son… He sees him in the distance! Typically, the scorned father would be waiting inside and might not be all that concerned. This father, who is Our God, is anxiously anticipating our return!

He throws his arms around his son… Another socially unimaginable moment from that time.  The son would, if anything, have to pay the father homage and then maybe get the father’s attention.

No – this father, Our God is elated to embrace us and welcome us back.

I could go on and on, but you get the picture.

We are not thrown away, we are never thrown away. There is no planned obsolescence for us.  Each of us is God’s unique and loving creation and God treasures each and every one of us.

So I would simply ask you to consider all the things – and people, that you might otherwise throw away. Especially with the people – this might mean:

  • a friend who has offended you so deeply that you will never speak to them again a spouse who has hurt you beyond imagining 
  • a son or daughter who has not quite lived up to your expectations for them
  • a relative who has brought, in your estimation, shame up on the family
  • anyone who disgusts or annoys you
  • yourself

Yes – yourself. We are all called into this radical reconciliation moment by our God who loves us and if we can’t give ourselves the forgiveness needed, if we can’t accept God’s outrageous attempts at such deep love and welcome, we may miss the moment on the road when our own prodigal person returns.

Especially since it might be yourself! We never really know who we will be called on to forgive… and we really can’t imagine how radical God’s forgiveness is. But we can try- and that might mean being merciful and forgiving to ourselves first.

So bear this in mind…  may have to recycle your old iPod, but don’t do it with your people. Or with yourself.

God is always waiting.

Prayer Knocks. Fasting Obtains. Mercy Receives. – Some thoughts on a sermon by Peter Chrysologus, Bishop

Each Tuesday in Lent we are have Taize Evening Prayer at our parish. It is mostly the plaintive music and chant in the Taize style along with a reading and a reflection on that reading.

I offered the reflection this past Tuesday. I publish some approximation of what I wanted to say. That is why it is all in caps – I was going to take it to the ambo with me, but in the end, I used short word notes so that I would speak and not read.  For some reason, Word won’t let me change the font and I don’t have time to fool around with it today.

In any case, this is close enough to what I said. I wasn’t going to publish it but many people (thank you all) have asked and I was also inspired by Jane’s post on Taize prayer in her community.

Jane has some lovely video links.  The videos at the top and bottom are two of the chants that we use in our service. If you are not familiar with Taize I can only say that the music has been truly transformational and life changing for me. I hope you like it.

I will also add that I have a pastor who invites others to share their thoughts. I will also add that I work for another pastor who encourages and helps me always in my writing and reflecting. They are amazing men and I am deeply grateful to have them in my life. 

Prayer Knocks. Fasting Obtains. Mercy Receives.
Some thoughts on a sermon by Peter Chrysologus, Bishop

IMAGINE THAT YOU WANT TO BAKE SOME COOKIES AND YOU HAVE A RECIPE THAT CALLS FOR 3 INGREDIENTS – PEANUT BUTTER, SUGAR AND EGG. YOU DECIDE TO ELIMINATE ONE, FOR WHATEVER REASON YOU. MAYBE YOU THINK YOU ARE BEING NOBLE BECAUSE THE EGGS WEREN’T FROM FREE RANGE CHICKENS OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT.

YOU BEGIN TO MIX THE PEANUT BUTTER AND SUGAR, BUT IT IS NOT HOLDING TOGETHER VERY WELL. YOU STRUGGLE WITH IT AS YOU ARE DEDICATED TO THIS PLAN, BUT THE COOKIES HAVE A REAL LACK OF INTEGRITY AND FALL APART. YOU POWER YOUR WAY THROUGH AND SOMEHOW GET SOMETHING ONTO YOUR COOKIE SHEET AND BAKE.

IT IS A DISASTER. THE SAME THING WOULD HAPPEN IF YOU LEFT OUT JUST THE PEANUT BUTTER OR JUST THE SUGAR. ALL POTENTIALLY NOBLE ELIMINATIONS  – BUT THE RECIPE WILL CONTINUE TO FAIL.

TODAY WE HEAR SOME WELL PLACED LENTEN… AND LIFE GUIDANCE FROM SAINT PETER CHRYSOLOGUS WHICH HE SHARES WITH US TODAY IN HIS SERMON ENTITLED “PRAYER KNOCKS, FASTING OBTAINS, MERCY RECEIVES,” FROM TODAY’S OFFICE OF READINGS.

“PRAYER KNOCKS AT THE DOOR, FASTING OBTAINS, MERCY RECEIVES. PRAYER, MERCY AND FASTING: THESE THREE ARE ONE, AND THEY GIVE LIFE TO EACH OTHER.”

IT IS LIKE THE TRINITY – DYNAMIC, RELATIONAL. HOW OFTEN DO WE WANT ONE OR TWO OF THE ABOVE, BUT NOT ALL OF THE ABOVE? I DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU, BUT I CERTAINLY CAN BE PICKY ABOUT HOW THIS WORKS IN MY LIFE AND THAT PICKINESS LEADS TO A REAL LACK OF INTEGRITY IN MY PRAYER AND SPIRIT. YET THE TRINITY DEMANDS ALL 3… DEMANDS ALL 3 –  WITH GREAT LOVE.

PRAYER KNOCKS – WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? IT MEANS THAT PRAYER IS OUR COMMUNICATION TO GOD, WITH GOD. TO PRAY IS TO BE UNITED WITH OUR LORD. NOW PRAYER CAN MEAN DIFFERENT THINGS 
– IT IS THE SILENT UTTERANCE FROM THE DEPTH OF OUR HEART,
-THE ROSARY SAID IN THE CAR, A NOVENA, A SIMPLE OUR FATHER. 
-YOUR PRAYER MAY SIMPLY BE THE DEEP BREATH AND STRETCH TAKEN IN AWE ON YOUR DECK AT DAWN AS YOU WATCH THE CARDINAL AT THE FEEDER. 
LITURGY IS PRAYER – EVENING PRAYER LIKE THIS AND OF COURSE MASS, EUCHARIST. TO TRY TO FIT PRAYER INTO A TINY BOX IS TO DIMINISH IT.

SO AT SOME LEVEL, IT DOESN’T MATTER HOW YOU PRAY… JUST THAT YOU PRAY. ALL PRAYERS ARE A DOORWAY TO GOD. A DOORWAY THAT IT WOULD APPEAR WE ALL WANT TO GO RUNNING THROUGH, EXCEPT… EXCEPT FOR THAT PESKY EGG. OR SUGAR. OR PEANUT BUTTER. OR WHATEVER WE CHOOSE TO LEAVE OUT. PRAYER, ALTHOUGH A PRIMARY INGREDIENT, DOES NOT STAND ALONE.

WE CAN’T WILLFULLY LEAVE ANY ONE INGREDIENT OUT. HOWEVER, I KNOW THAT I OFTEN – AND WILLFULLY SO – DO JUST THAT.

THIS DOESN’T MEAN NOT PRAYING – IT MAY HOWEVER MEAN NOT PRAYING WELL. IT MAY MEAN THE PRAYER EQUIVALENT OF THIS BAD HABIT… MY HUSBAND AND I START A CONVERSATION AND IN THE MIDST OF IT, ONE OF US WALKS TO THE OTHER SIDE OF THE KITCHEN AND STARTS TO DO SOMETHING. I AM NOT FACING HIM, I MAY LEAVE THE ROOM, BUT I STILL EXPECT AND WANT HIM TO LISTEN TO ME, TO HEAR ME. I MEAN – WHAT AM I DOING?

DOES THIS EVER HAPPEN TO YOU?

SO WHAT THEN DO WE NEED IN ORDER TO PRAY?

FASTING. UGH, IF THERE IS ANY ONE SPIRITUAL PRACTICE THAT IS NOT MY PARTICULAR GIFT, IT IS FASTING.

HOWEVER, FASTING, WHILE ABOUT FOOD, IS ALSO ABOUT MANY OTHER THINGS AS WELL. FASTING ALSO MEANS TO REDUCE OR ELMINATE INTAKE – OF FOOD, OF DRINK, OF ACTIVITY, OF NOISE, OF THE TV OR THE COMPUTER.

FASTING MEANS TO PREPARE YOURSELF TO ENCOUNTER GOD MORE FULLY.

THE READING REMINDED US THAT: “WHEN YOU FAST, SEE THE FASTING OF OTHERS. IF YOU WANT GOD TO KNOW THAT YOU ARE HUNGRY, KNOW THAT ANOTHER IS HUNGRY.”


***LET GOD KNOW THAT YOU ARE HUNGRY BY KNOWING THAT ANOTHER IS HUNGRY.***

THAT IS PART OF THE RUB OF FASTING – NOT TO DO IT FOR MORTIFICATION’S SAKE ALONE. MORTIFICATION CAN MAKE IT BE ABOUT YOU – KNOWING ANOTHER’S HUNGER ALLOWS FOR SPACE, WHICH IS WHAT FASTING IS ABOUT.
AND HUNGER… IT TRANSFORMS INTO SOMETHING ABOUT UNITY WITH GOD AND WITH ONE ANOTHER. WITH GOD AND ONE ANOTHER.

AFTER ALL, HOW CAN WE LISTEN TO JESUS’ COMMAND TO FEED OTHERS IF WE DO NOT KNOW HUNGER?  AND HOW CAN WE LET GOD FEED US IF WE ARE NOT HUNGRY?


FASTING CREATES SPACE AND CLARITY, FASTING CREATES HUMILITY…

HOWEVER, WE LIVE IN A CULTURE THAT IS ABOUT AS ANTI-FASTING AS CAN BE.

FOOD IS LOVE, FAST FOOD, FOOD NETWORKS, COMFORT FOOD, SMART FOOD, FOOD FOOD FOOD AND MORE FOOD. WE DO NOT KNOW WHAT HUNGRY REALLY IS.


ADD TO THAT 
- 24 HOUR NEWS CYCLES, SO-CALLED “SMART PHONES” THAT KEEP US CONNECTED ALL DAY AND EVERY DAY
- TO-DO LISTS THAT STRETCH A MILE LONG AND A SOCIETY THAT REWARDS US FOR OUR NUMEROUS ACCOMPLISHMENTS 
- AND SHAMES US FOR ANY SEEMING LACK OF “DOING SOMETHING MEANINGFUL.” 
DON’T ALL FEEL SOME PRIDE ABOUT HAVING A ROOF OVER OUR HEAD AND FOOD TO EAT? 
DO WE NOT FEEL SHAME IF WE DON’T?

WHOSE HOUSE DO WE INHABIT? WHOSE FOOD DO WE EAT?

AND WHAT ABOUT MERCY? CHRYSOLOGUS TELLS US THIS…

“MERCY RECIEVES.”

I WAS TELLING SOMEONE ABOUT THIS THE OTHER DAY AND IN A REMINDER OF DISTRACTED PRAYER, THE PERSON ASKED ME, “WHAT DOES MERCY RECEIVES MEAN?” AND THEN PROMPTLY WALKED AWAY AS I WAS ABOUT TO ANSWER. BUSY. DISTRACTED. NOT RUDE, NOT UNKIND… JUST NORMAL FOR MOST OF WHEN STRESSSED.

IN ANY CASE… MERCY RECEIVES.

RECEIVES.

IT REALLY STRUCK ME WHEN I CONSIDERED THAT CHRYSOLOGUS WAS REMINDING US THAT WE SHOULD SHOW MERCY AS WE WOULD WANT TO HAVE MERCY SHOWN TO US.

DO WE REALLY WANT MERCY SHOWN TO US?

FASTING MAY APPEAR THE TOUGH INGREDIENT, BUT MAYBE IN THE END IT IS MERCY.

RECEIVING IS PASSIVE. MERCY IS FOR THOSE IN NEED.

AND I THOUGHT FASTING WAS A CHALLENGE?

PASSIVE? NEEDY? LORDY HELP ME NO! I AM CAPABLE! CAN’T YOU TELL THAT FROM MY PRAYER?

MERCY – LIKE FORGIVENESS, IS NOT A TRANSACTIONAL ITEM, BUT RATHER SOMETHING THAT WE BOTH GIVE.

AND RECEIVE.

EVERYTHING WAS FINE UNTIL THIS BECAME DYNAMIC RATHER THAN TRANSACTIONAL.

HOWEVER, WITHOUT MERCY – GIVEN AND RECEIVED, THE RECIPE LACKS INTEGRITY. WHATEVER WE MASH UP AND ROLL ONTO OUR COOKIE SHEET WILL NOT HOLD TOGETHER.

I AM THINKING OF TIMES WHEN I WANTED GOD TO HAVE MERCY ON ME FOR SOMETHING I SCREWED UP… AND YET I OFTEN FIND IT MORE THAN A LITTLE HARD TO SHOW MERCY TO OTHERS.

IF YOU READ OR HEARD TODAY’S GOSPEL YOU WILL KNOW EXACTLY WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT.

IT IS HARD, BUT IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT MERCY BE PART OF THE TRINITARIAN MIX.

PRAYER KNOCKS, FASTING OBTAINS, MERCY RECEIVES. 
DON’T LEAVE ONE OUT.


Desert Days of Lent

I have not been blogging much. And I have not published anything in the local Catholic paper lately either. Just no time and so little inspiration. Oh – I have started so many posts and essays… but I have finished nothing.  I guess I have done a few posts for my church blog, but that’s it.

Part of it is that I am really in my Lent -I am in the desert.  And my mind is very much on the journey to Jerusalem that is coming. (That would be the metaphorical one – although if someone said I could go to Jerusalem, I would be on the next plane, without a moment’s hesitation.)

Anyway, as Lent goes, I am in the desert. That’s fine – it is where I need to be. I am reminded of Hosea 2:16 – “But look, I am going to seduce her and lead her into the desert and speak to her heart.” That of course brings to mind, Jeremiah 20:7, “You seduced me Lord, and I let myself be seduced…”

All this seduction, the desert, the silence… Such are the ways of Lent. I carry on, so far, I do not hear the speaking to my heart. I have no doubt however, it will come.

The Roar of Silence

It is the First Sunday of Lent which reminds me of heading out on a hike and seeing the great expanse all around, feeling the sun on my skin and the enthusiasm in my heart for this journey. I am someone that always welcomes Lent.

Then of course, I get very, very tired. It is about pacing maybe, I’m not sure. Maybe I would be better off if I felt a bit more tempered at the start; this is a life issue for me.

Luke’s Gospel paints a compelling portrait of Jesus and temptation. One thing that I love about this gospel is how Jesus engages with the the tempter – Satan.  Jesus neither yields nor flees, he just goes head-to-head and toe-to-toe with evil. It reminds me that as human beings in general, we all struggle with internal authority, which in my way of seeing things is about faith and connection to God. My inner authority is based on the presence of God in my life and directly related to my awareness of that at any moment.

No offense to anyone who feels triumphant in battling their temptations, but my own life has shown me that “willpower” is something that doesn’t work for me. First of all, I almost never succeed with “willpower” and second of all, even if it seems I do, that makes it all about me and not about God.

For me, the rare times when I do triumph is when I am most connected to God. Not that I think it happens all that often. *sigh* No, it does not happen that often at all.

So to see Jesus be connected to what is right and to choose as he does is very edifying if I can stand to sit in silence with it for some time. Yes, I did say if I can stand to sit in silence with it.

Perhaps that is the greatest temptation, to not enter into the silence. That is where our demons reside it seems. The roaring silence can be deafening and terrifying. You may be thinking that I never shut up enough to know about this and you may be right. I do edge up to the chasm every now and then, usually during Lent, so I am not completely unfamiliar with it.

Jesus knows better, he headed out there for those 40 days to confront the truth that tells us that bread, power and testing God were no way to redemption. If that doesn’t invite some thought about all of our lives, I don’t know what will.