The slow drip of Lent

Here we are, the First Sunday of Lent. I hope it has been a fruitful time for you so far. Between all the Lenten studies, books, devotionals and the retreat I am taking, I have enough content to reflect on for the entire season, without reading anything new. I have been so inspired by all the things I have been reading and reflecting on. My hope is that my sharing my experience of some of them will be helpful to you as well.

This past week I saw a print by a favorite artist, Kreg Yingst (WorkingArts on Etsy) of Abba Poemen, 4th Century Desert Father. The desert fathers and mothers (Abbas and Ammas) were Christians who walked away from their lives in order to intentionally listen to the call of God in a more radical way. Many people went to the desert to seek out these wise teachers for guidance in their own spiritual lives. The print is based on a quote by Abba Poemen where he states that water is soft and stones are hard but allowing water to drip on a stone, slowly it will wear it away. So it is with the word on God on our hearts. Kreg Yingst’s print says “dripping water pierces rock, God’s repeated word penetrates the heart.” This is my theme for this week, perhaps all of Lent, to let the slow drip of my Lenten fasting and prayer practices to wear away the many layers of resistance and avoidance within.

On Wednesday one of the meditations, part of my Abbey of the Arts Retreat, A Different Type of Fast, was with Abba Arsenius, another of the Desert Fathers. We sat in a cave and called upon Abba Arsenius to share his wisdom with us for our Lenten journey. He told me to sit, don’t act (or reach) so quickly. Slowly the desire I am trying to fill will leave and peace will fill the space. As I sat with Abba Arsenius and the wisdom he shared with me an image quickly came to me. It was a boat with holes in the bottom and water rushing in the holes. I saw all the habits I seek to be free of this Lent as my frantic attempts to prevent the water from rushing in, to prevent the feelings from rushing in. Rather than filling the holes it occurred to me to create an open space, with no resistance, and see what happens.

Another source of inspiration for Lent has been Ignatian Solidarity Network’s daily reflection of the theme Finding God in the Chaos. On Ash Wednesday, Sr. Norma Pimentel asked us to reflect on how we might be more attentive to God’s presence in the chaos of our world. The series is focused on finding hope and God’s presence in the chaos of our global landscape. As we do we are challenged to find ways to be part of a solution. That can feel difficult most days, but can I resist the temptation to say that the problems in our world are too big and that I can’t even make a dent in solving the problems? It might be as simple as using fewer paper towels or disposable items in the kitchen or saving money that would be spent on a drive-through coffee and over the course of Lent save those dollars to make a donation to a favorite cause. I believe that as we find more internal peace, calm, compassion and understanding we are more capable of bringing those qualities into the world. That alone can make a huge difference in our families, our work environments and our communities.

During Lent the Hallow app is doing a study of the classic The Imitation of Christ, believed to be written by Thomas a Kempis. If any of the things you are reading or hearing from others feel overwhelming or too hard, I offer the words from The Imitation of Christ, “do not be deterred, nor quickly cast down when you hear about the way of the perfect. Rather be inspired to reach great heights or at least aspire to attain them.” All of our internal efforts will, like water dripping on a stone, result in greater charity and concern for others. We can be assured that there will be outward signs of our inward journey of renewal.

Peace, Deena

Photo from PicMonkey

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