Incredibly, Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent is just a little over a week ahead. As we all begin to meditate on “what we are going to give up for Lent”—and more importantly, what we are going to DO for Lent to deepen our relationship with the Lord – I was drawn to this image of an Everglades bird called the “yellow crowned blue Heron” which Evelyn and I spied yesterday on our Sunday afternoon hike together in a wildlife refuge nearby. The bird is out on a limb, literally, yet moving forward, not backward. He is doing so ever so slowly, yet confidently, one step at a time. Maybe this is a good way
to think about our coming Lenten journey to, and with, Christ. Rather than be intimidated by the magnitude of the task at hand, giving something up that I like for 40 days straight, or doing something I know I need to do but would be hard to do for 40 days in a row, maybe I should focus on “one day at a time,” or as the Lord Himself advised, on asking the Father to “give us this day our DAILY bread.”
1. What in the past year has been in my way from growing closer to Jesus?
All of us desire to be closer to God, our Creator. We’ve signed up to the program, if you will. Yet, the human condition is such that all of us find ourselves attached to something, to one of His creations, that sometimes is an obstacle to Him. We are overly drawn to the created, and lose sight of the Creation. What is it? That extra television program at night that leaves me too sleepy when its over to dialogue as I should with God before bed? That second glass of wine at night that leads my mind astray? That unnecessary, almost instinctive reaction to open my Facebook account to see what’s up when I know nothing serious is? Let’s meditate on the obstacles in my life of my own doing that have kept me from the Lord this past year. And let me pick the biggest one to give up—for a day. For one day. And after that, for one day more. Until I get through Lent. One day at a time.
2. What prayer or meditation could I add to my daily routine that would help me draw closer to God?
All of us probably have a spiritual book we’ve purchased a while ago, or that was given to us, that we “haven’t gotten to yet.” Maybe our prayer intention could be to work our way through that book, a little each day, one page or chapter at a time. Or maybe there’s a special prayer in our prayer book that has appealed to us, but that we’ve let drop away. Maybe we could meditate on that each day through Lent. One day at a time. Or maybe we could pick one of the Gospel books to read and meditate through as we proceed through Lent, one day at a time.
3. What can I do actively to help grow the Kingdom that I’ve been too afraid to embark on because it seemed too tall a mountain for me to climb?
Is there a homeless person I walk past every day on my way to work that I’ve generally ignored? Maybe I could try to get to know him or her by chatting for a few minutes with them each day; maybe make a sandwich for them. Or maybe there is something at home I could do that I typically leave to my spouse instead that would really help him or her, like doing the breakfast dishes before I head to work every day. Is there a Lenten mission in my parish I could help with? Of how about skipping my afternoon cup of coffee and contributing the savings to the poor box at church each day? Maybe I could do this on Ash Wednesday during my fast, and then the next day, and then the next….
Please join me in prayer on this in the days ahead. Let’s all collectively pray for the Lord’s help and guidance in choosing one daily obstacle to Him to give up, one extra daily prayer to Him that will draw us closer, and one act of kindness to others that I could do every day if I just thought about it. One step at a time.