Today is Ash Wednesday
And although the words may vary from place to place
the phrase I most often hear that lingers within me is…
Turn Away from Self Seeking Behavior (Sin) and
Return to the Gospel…
(the Good Road and Sacred Path of God’s ways).
Why now? Why at this time of year,
in this season named Lent,
are we encouraged to mindfully and intentionally
Turn and Return?
What is Lent?
What is it asking of me?
Lent is the time we remember
The ritual of Lent is an act of remembering
We remember the way Jesus prepared for
his path of joy and lack of joy…
his path of suffering, abandonment, disillusion and
dying to one way of life and awakening in another.
Jesus turned and returned to the Sacred Spirit
and ancient practice of prayer that prepared, guided , consoled
and strengthened him through his
Immense Journey of life.
Jesus turned his focus away from his busy and tiring work to re-collect
and reunite himself with the One who gave him life
Jesus made time and space to strengthen his spirit and mind
for what was about to come…
as he continued walking the complex path
of living freely and faithfully into who God created Him to be.
Our life is also an immense journey…
through experiences of joy and hope…
and inevitable sorrow and suffering,
that can raise complex questions
that often times offer no direct answers.
So, Why am I invited to Pray during Lent ?
and What is Prayer asking of me?
We’re invited to pray to cultivate an inner space
and the interior resources to negotiate and live in peace
with the many realities of our immense trek through life.
Lent is a time and invitation to turn inward, to go deep
and to prepare as our journey continues to unfold
It’s a time to re-unite our spirit with God’s Sacred Spirit
in a deeply personal way…
because our journey is deeply unique and personal.
Jesus experienced joy and wonder…
and he expected the pain and suffering
as he lived deeper into the mystery of his life…
and we should expect it too.
Prayer is simply an honest conversation
with someone who loves you for who you are
It’s a response to an invitation from a loving God
who has promised to help us through it all…
and to expect that, like Jesus,
we’ll come through it all too…
Transformed by the experience.
Prayer is an ancient practice…
and although the words and methods
have evolved over the centuries,
the universal experience of it has not.
It’s the silence that soothes, consoles, guides and strengthens the spirit.
It’s a deep listening the involves more than simply hearing …
As we all know, we can listen and hear while our minds and bodies
are occupied with other thoughts and more pressing priorities.
Prayer is an intentional choice
to draw near to God’s presence…
to turn the totality of your being
to the awareness of the Creator’s abiding presence
in your heart, spirit and soul…
and the ever present invitation for you to reunite with it
time and time again.
When we turn our full attention to contemplate God
for a short time…
Prayer becomes a mystery that overflows
our conscious and unconscious lives.
It’s a moment of truth
and a time to face the truth of your heart
And during difficult times, the Spirit of Truth
gently helps us to name our fears, worries,
frustrations and disappointments.
The gentle naming helps us to see things more clearly…
And receive the grace of God’s peace to let go of the fear…
to keep walking through each painful and uncertain moment
as we continue along the complex path of our journey.
Prayer however is a choice…
a resolute practice and response
to a gift of grace that awaits you
And God always waits for you…
waits for you to turn away from the busyness of your life
if only for a few moments.
God waits for us because our dignity lies in our freedom…
and when we pray with God’s Spirit of Freedom
we come to know ourselves more deeply
while held in the arms of Infinite Love.
Lent is a time to remember the faithfulness and ever present promise
of the One who is waiting for you…
A time to turn and return to the place
of your Original blessing…
A time to seek and nurture a deeper relationship with
the One who seeks to walk the joyful and most painful
paths of life with you.
What is Lent asking of you?
To turn away from all that occupies your mind and heart
for a short time…
What is prayer asking of you?
To seek the One who is seeking you…
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© Chris Donovan
Chris Donovan is a frequent speaker on Scripture and Spirituality. She holds a Master of Theology (Th.M.) and a Post-Master's Certificate in Spiritual Formation from Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, as well as a Master of Theological Studies (M.T.S.) from Weston Jesuit School of Theology. Chris is an associate member of the Catholic Biblical Association and of the Carmelite Contemplative Community of Reno, Nevada.