As you may or may not be aware, the Christian church is more than halfway through this year’s Lenten journey — the space on the church calendar reserved for contemplation of the human need for forgiveness in preparation for Holy Week and Easter Sunday.
Growing up, Lent is something I knew very little about as I was raised in nondenominational evangelical churches. I more or less discovered the practice in adulthood, and quickly grew to love it. The practice of contemplation, of sitting in the silence of my soul and not just rushing on into the celebration part of my faith, is something I have found deeply meaningful. It is a chance to confront not only my own darkness but the transforming joy or knowing that this darkness is both known and loved by God. I know from experience that it is worth the pain of really knowing myself to know that kind of love.
This year, above any other in my life, I have experienced an embarrassment of riches in terms of opportunities to explore the quiet reflection that Lent encourages: opportunities to lead reflections and adult forums at our home church back here in New Jersey, mid-week Lenten services (that the kids can almost sit through without squirming) as well as Sunday worship, and most of all time that I could commit to quiet prayer. I’m not yet working, and the kids are in school from 9:00-3:00, so I have as much open time in my day as I have ever had.
This Lenten season, above any other in my adult life, I have been struggling with the discipline, with the silence of sitting and listening. It’s almost as if there is too much time, too much silence in my life at the moment and I want to run to fill it… with books on tape, or music, or podcasts, or Facebook feeds… not with the silence of waiting for the Lord.
And so, today’s poem is my feeble prayer for the grace to listen.
Praying for God’s Senses
God who hears, teach me to listen!
God who sees, give my soul sight!
Through life’s blessings or its challenge
fill my weakness with Your might.
Far too often I have shouted
to make sure my voice you heard.
When, instead, I should have listened
for the Truth beyond all words.
Or I’ve tried to paint a picture,
bright and bold so you’d attend,
while my fractured, warping lenses
blurred my sight — that you must mend.
What I need is not to capture
the attention of my God.
Rather what I need is wonder
that can bear the grace of Love.
What I need is to surrender,
to receive what’s offered me.
Ears that hear a voice beloved.
Eyes to see Christ risen indeed.