This Lent has been an interesting one so far. I feel like a bird poised on the edge of a branch waiting for the wind to turn so I can take flight. Staying with this metaphor: I am also hoping the wind takes its time because I would rather stay in this tree a little longer than be heading towards the clouds. I usually love Lent because it offers a chance to nestle in and snuggle with God. Being still and knowing God is God helps me through the entire year and I find that Lent is generally that time when I readjust my stillness that is all out of whack after the craziness of Christmas and New Year and all the gatherings that come with them. This Lent has been taken at a run and I don’t like it; not one bit!
But as I sit and reflect on this Lent I also recognize that Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness was not a picnic. Jesus didn’t have forty days to just sit and snuggle with God. Jesus was being tempted by Satan. Jesus was being challenged to defy God’s authority. And we call it temptation because it was tempting. If you read the account from Matthew 4:1-11 it might sound like it was easy. Satan tossed out a challenge and Jesus swatted it down with a scripture reference. Boom! Super Jesus to the rescue! But this is not a comic book. Jesus was tired and hungry and weak. The devil was offering a “life line” out of the pain in which Jesus found himself. If you have even been in pain, not just physical pain –but emotional and spiritual pain as well, then you know that it would be excruciating if someone came by and asked you to do some that you knew you could do promising to end the suffering if you obeyed. If someone came and challenged me to sing a difficult aria promising to make all emotional and spiritual suffering cease if I did don’t you think I would get to work learning that aria?
I love Lent because it generally gives me an excuse to focus my eyes on God when other activities invite me to do otherwise. This exercise of turning to God is something that we should do each and everyday, but we don’t. We find countless excuses to do something else instead. So this anxiety that I am feeling about the coming breeze that will ask me to release my perch and fly from this place is actually helping me (against my will) to participate in a more authentic Lenten experience.
This morning I was reading Mother Teresa’s No Greater Love. She wrote: “God will not ask how many books you have read; how many miracles you have worked; He will ask you if you have done your best, for the love of Him. Can you in all sincerity say, ‘I have done my best’? Even if the best is failure, it must be our best, our utmost.” So the question I am asking myself today, and the question I invite you to reflect upon, is ‘Have I done my best?’ In this world of excuses am I really giving all that I have to God or am I holding something back in the hopes that it will serve another purpose later?
Today I am packing my car to drive to Maine and Massachusetts. I will be visiting my sponsoring parish and my new parish. I will be going on the postulants and candidates retreat for the Diocese of Massachusetts. I will be seeing a movie with my sister and shopping for fabric for my ordination stole with my grandmother. And, I will be asking what more I have to give that I have been holding back – because I am pretty sure my metaphor of a bird awaiting flight is flawed since God wants me to be flying already.