Are we nearly there yet?

Lent has been a bit of a non starter this year. And so just because it is Spy Wednesday it does not mean I am ready to celebrate the Triduum.

During Lent last year the scales fell from my eyes. Giving something up was not what God demanded of me but something I could do for God. After that epiphany Lent was easier than it had been in the past.

Armed with this new found knowledge I looked forward to Lent this year. I had also decided to use Janet Morleys lovely book  The Heart’s Time during my morning prayer.

I refreshed my prayer space, new candle, pen (working), missal, book, journal and looked forward to the coming days. Praying the daily Gospel, pondering the daily poem with its reflection from the book and scribbling my insights in my journal lasted for about two and a half weeks.

They say that if you want to make God laugh tell God your plans…

I became unwell. Thinking it was just a head cold I ploughed on doing the things that had to be done and letting others go to try to carve out a little rest time. Early morning prayer became one of the things to go as I went back to bed after the morning rush rather than spend that time with the Lord. Feeling guilty I did sometimes have a look at the poem and the reflection mainly to be able to talk to one of my prayer companions who happened to be using the same book.

As the cold developed into sinusitis even antibiotics could not life the fog that filled my brain. I felt the Lord nudge and invite me through the fog of illness but I could not, was not letting Him through. He might require something of me that I was unable to give.

Instead I struggled on preparing work only to cancel the sessions at the last minute because I was too ill to do them. I read the beginning of a blog by one of favourite bloggers who said ‘I have succumbed to the fever and spent time in reflection’.

Really? WOW!

I tried not to succumb and when I did spent it giving myself a hard time for not being strong enough, being lazy, wondering if anyone would believe I was ill, really ill or if they would think I was making it up, swinging the led. How on earth could I let people down? I had to go to that meeting (I had missed the last one and used up my free pass!), I had to give that talk, it was the last in the series, I had been booked ages ago (they might not ask me back).

(But God, hey I knew He would be ok with it all, He understood. If I could give up anything it would be my time with Him.)

So when I was preparing more work, looking for a piece of music my media player played through the song I had chosen and onto another.

And before I realised I was crying. Unable to type I gave in, succumbed to the music and what it was that God had been trying to say to me.

Still it was to be a few days later before I really got it. Using the song as the prayer for the closing Liturgy of a 24 hour meeting, I asked the participants ‘What will it cost, to spend time resting with the Lord?. And again the tears, along with the scales of awareness fell from my eyes.

Rest

This Lent, through my illness, the Lord had been inviting me to rest. I did not need to fear that He would ask me to give something I could not give.

The cost? Vulnerability.  And that is difficult.

I do believe that there is a link between illness and learning. Any time my children were ill I noticed that it preceded a breakthrough, reading, swimming, riding a bike, and I feel that it will be the same with this illness too.

I believe that there is much learning to come out of this Lent. If only that I need to learn how to be vulnerable.

A future post might read, ‘I succumbed and spending the time in reflection this is what I learnt…’

Ready or not we have arrived, and I pray, we will all journey safely with the Lord through the Triduum  and into the Joy of the Resurrection.

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The invitiation

This week the Church offers us an invitation to love. We are invited to enter into the love of the Trinity ever more deeply, and to experience the love God has for us.

6 OT Trinity Rublev

Lent is not about punishment, the Lord knows life is hard enough! Lent is a space in the year for us to focus consciously on our relationship with the One who calls us beloved. Lent is a place where we can go to look at our lives in the light of this abundant, unconditional Love. For some of us, or perhaps most of us, to accept that invitation will not be without some pain. To reflect on any relationship and discover that it is lacking is painful.

Lent is a time of transformation. When we see where things could be better; in us, in the way we love, in the way we live, another invitation is given. We are invited to reconfigure our lives, to repent, to turn back to the Living Lord who waits for us like the Father in the story of the Prodigal son. Every moment, God watches and waits for us, waits for us to realise that things are not right, to want to return. When we do He rushes to meet us and enfolds us in a welcome embrace. We only have to make the first step, He does the rest.

Lent is about forgiveness. It strengthens the transformation. that begins when we want to repent.

If Lent is the invitation, then it is to Easter that we are invited and there are three ways to prepare for the Feast: Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving.

These pillars of Lent are also not about punishment but are aides that enable us to see where changes need to made to our lives. I have lost count of the many times I mean to send a donation various charities and never seem to get around to it. Lent affords me the opportunity to focus on the why of that inability and to put a practice in place that might change it. Some research has shown that for a new habit to become embedded takes 6 weeks.

Spending time in prayer, possibly discovering a new way to pray, a new way to listen and talk with the Lord is an exciting prospect. As Keirkergaard says, we pray not to change God but to change ourselves. And ultimately that is what Lent does, it changes us.

Fasting is more that just going without, it can be a way of seeking solidarity, even for a short while, with our sisters and brothers for whom fasting is a way of life not a choice. It can be a way of refocusing on what is more important – our family, our faith, our community. It is also a way of exercising self control. Self control, rather than being something that binds us, can be a way of cutting the ties to the things that enslave us and living in freedom when its motivation is love.

Lent invites us to spend time renewing and deepening our relationship with the Triune God. Say YES to the invitation, spend time in prayer, fast and give to those in need so that we can participate in the life of Christ, transforming us so that we may ‘turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel”.

Happy Lent!

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