Finding Light in the Wilderness
If you are Christian and following the liturgical calendar, we are about a third of the way through the Lenten journey that leads up to Easter Sunday. The forty day journey, not including Sundays, chronicles the days and nights Jesus spent in the wilderness, enduring the temptation of Satan and preparing to begin his ministry. Lent is a time of year when we focus on repentance, fasting and preparation for the coming of Easter. It is a time of self-examination and reflection where people focus on their relationship with God, often choosing to give up something or to volunteer and give of themselves for others.
Did you know that the word Lent comes from the Anglo Saxon word lencten, which means spring? In nature we have just endured the cold, snowy and dark days of winter and are emerging into the spring. Hopefully soon, we will see the warmer temps and the first of the Jonquils, tulips and daffodils. I love this time of renewal because it parallels our own lives; after a dark time we emerge into a new light, unearthing the spring in ourselves.
So here is what I’m wondering…
What if the idea of Lent has played in the back of your head and you think you should honor the tradition but you are not quite there? Maybe you participate in the practice out of habit without any real intention behind your actions. You might be feeling like you are in the wilderness too. Yes, it happens, people of faith sometimes struggle in uncertain times and life circumstances. During these times some people turn to God/church and others feel the pull in another direction. Maybe the term “spiritual” feels like a better fit. So if you are asking, how can I honor the time between now and Easter in a way that is meaningful, you might not be alone. Because our lives ebb and flow we are not always in the same place spiritually. Circumstances in our life have a way of helping us to step back to gain perspective and refocus.
One of my favorite authors, Barbra Brown Taylor, writes this, “To the one who waits, all things reveal themselves, so long as you have the courage not to deny in the darkness what you have seen in the light.” This is a powerful statement about who we are because all too often when we are feeling lost , discouraged or stuck we focus on the negative aspect of ourselves. We are not patient, we want to rush things and we want the answers quickly, without much work on our part. But what if we took some time to reflect on this quote? What answers are you waiting for? Have you prayed that the answer will be what is best for you, even if you don’t agree with it? When was the last time that you acknowledged your gifts? My guess it has been a while because we don’t easily focus on the God given gifts that we bring into the world each day.
Taking some time to be quiet is essential component to self-reflection and building a relationship with self and God. Do what works best for you but morning’s right after you get up is a good way to focus for the day. I always recommend that you keep it simple and make it meaningful. Begin with reading your favorite Bible verse or other inspirational passage that fills your soul. Identify the gifts you offer to the world each day (kindness, empathy, leadership etc.) and identify one you will focus on today. And lastly, but most important, ask how you can be of service and then do it.
Asking these three simple questions each day helps us to realign ourselves so that we can reclaim the light that is within us. Blessings on your journey.