We are in the middle of the season of Lent, the 40 days we observe while we wait for Easter, the resurrection. These are our 40 days in the wilderness-the wilderness where we dwell with the “wild things.” I began this Lenten season at a Presbyterian Women’s retreat, led by Susan Andrews, with the provocative title, “Beasts, Bones and Blessings.” The picture above is the table that was the focal point of our daylong retreat. [Note the bones.] And I was reminded that right below the surface of my more or less wonderful life there is a wilderness, and “beasts” live in it. These “wild things” distract me and take my focus away from the important things. I guess everyone has his or her own wild things, but mine are busy-ness, the Internet, worry, feeling the passage of time. And right beside these beasts are angels, angels in the form of my family and friends, my wife, my meditation cushion.
I was reminded of all of this during the “Bored and Brilliant” challenge that Sarah Henkel mentioned in an earlier post. How hard it is to be bored! How hard it is to wait! How hard Lent is, when we are waiting, waiting for both Good Friday and Easter Sunday. And what’s love got to do with it?
Well, first and foremost, we might look to John, 15:1: “As the Father loved me, I too have loved you. Remain in my love.” To me, Jesus is all about love. And sometimes love is about waiting-waiting for the ones we love to finish a sentence before we “barge in” to either hurry the conversation along, or because we think we know them so well that we know what they’re going to say. Or waiting for right moment to have a conversation. Or waiting for someone to speak. Waiting through the silences. The author Sue Atchley Ebaugh is quoted as saying “The greatest gift we can give one another is rapt attention to one another’s existence.” How can I give someone else “rapt attention” when I am hurrying through my own existence? Isn’t love “rapt attention?” And isn’t Lent a time when we can learn to love by slowing down, by “fasting” from hurry, from distractions? This is a time to focus on God, to give God/Jesus/the Holy Spirit our rapt attention, our love.
So for me, that’s what love has to do with it-Lent is about love, the love that led Jesus to the cross, the love that leads us to listen to each other and to love another as Jesus loves us. I hope you are having a “love-ly” Lent!
Connie Knapp is a Ruling Elder at First Presbyterian Church in Yorktown and a participant in the Commissioned Ruling Elders program of the Hudson River Presbytery.