You are not far from the Kingdom of God.
In the liturgy this week our readings focus on the idea of enlightenment, how knowledge of Christ brings us into the light of faith and understanding. Encountering Christ and knowing his truth is hard to put into words. We say it’s like finding water in the desert. It’s like being blind from birth and suddenly having our eyes opened. I loved the way Fr. Luis in From Ash to Water imagined what the blind man did after Jesus restored his sight. He could not sleep he was so excited. He went quickly to see the faces of his parents, faces he had only touched with his hands . . . He wanted to spend hours with his beloved . . . He wanted to prepare his heart for the awe of his first sunrise. Can you just imagine his joy?! His story helps us understand the awe and beauty, the gift of new life we have in God. God is quenched thirst. God is illumination in a dark room. These images help us grasp the unseen hand at work in everything. They are the breeze of spirit moving among us.
The mystery of God surrounds us, and as I told my youngest daughter this week, who is prone to questioning things she can not see, God is present whenever we love one another. When she wraps her tiny arms around my middle and squeezes me affectionately. At bedtime when her older sister picks up her homework and moves it into my study to be close to her because she’s afraid of being alone in a darkened downstairs. When she forgives her friend for stealing her slice of garlic bread and tells me, I was mad she grabbed it but I forgave her for eating it; I don’t hold grudges over such small things. When you and I sit with one another, when we hold someone’s hand or anytime we smile. The works of God are made visible through you and me.
Your meditation question of when we have been light to others brought to mind my afternoon today when I took my 85 year old neighbor her mail. She is unable to get across the street to get her mail, so I periodically take it to her. Today she needed to talk and also needed help since her daughter has been in and out of the hospital. She needed advice and help responding to a jury summons. She can barely sign her name anymore, so I filled it out for her, and she painfully signed her name. She doesn’t like to ask for help, so I offered to take her to her hairdresser and shopping. We went thru this before when her daughter had a stroke a few years ago, so it begins again . . . It is a commitment of time that I didn’t want, but feel called to give, so I do it in Jesus name.
~ reader email, used with permission
The works of God are made visible through you and me.
: Often it’s hard to feel God’s presence or even know God is there. Doubt and disillusionment are part of our human story, but part of our challenge during Lent is to remove those barriers that keep us in darkness. Who or what this week made God visible to you? Who or what helps you see and know God is there?
: Vincent Van Gogh once said, One may have a blazing hearth in one’s soul and yet no one ever came to sit by it. Passers-by see a wisp of smoke from the chimney and continue on their way. Think of how many people you pass by in a day. Granted they may not be broken open along the roadside, but they could just as easily be in need of your friendship in ways you can not see. Find someone this week and make God visible to them through your presence.
: I love this passage below from Mark Nepo, bestselling author of The Book of Awakening. Nepo is a wonderful spiritual teacher, and in this passage he’s talking about living authentically. You could say he’s talking about blindness, but more importantly, blindness to who we are and how God knows us even in the dark. He’s talking about the truths that lie underneath those coverings we put on to to mask our vulnerability: you know . . . our anger, our impatience, our insecurity, doubt, and resentment. Our pride and jealousy. We often prefer to live in darkness in order to shield ourselves from the truth: we are lonely, hurting, afraid. But when we numb ourselves to these truths, Nepo says, we “diminish our chances of joy.” A joy, I would say, that comes from enlightenment to who we really are: beloved children of God.
Spend some time reflecting on this passage. Perhaps pray for the courage to bring your most vulnerable self to God and reflect on what might be covered up in you. What lies beneath your pride, your reserve, your sadness or loneliness and how have you been protecting yourself from bringing it into the light of God’s mercy, compassion and love?
We waste so much energy trying to cover up who we are when beneath every attitude is the want to be loved, and beneath every anger is a wound to be healed and beneath every sadness is the fear that there will not be enough time.
When we hesitate in being direct, we unknowingly slip something on, some added layer of protection that keeps us from feeling the world, and often that thin covering is the beginning of a loneliness which, if not put down, diminishes our chances of joy.
It’s like wearing gloves every time we touch something, and then, forgetting we chose to put them on, we complain that nothing feels quite real. Our challenge each day is not to get dressed to face the world but to unglove ourselves so that the doorknob feels cold and the car handle feels wet and the kiss goodbye feels like the lips of another being, soft and unrepeatable.
~ Mark Nepo The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have
♥ I’m thirsty for you! Drop me an email or leave a comment to let me know how your Lenten Journey is going? Are you rediscovering what sustains and nourishes you, what fills your well and waters your fields? I long to hear your story and know you.
P R A Y E R
I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.
Brothers and sisters:
You were once darkness,
but now you are light in the Lord.
Live as children of light,
for light produces every kind of goodness
and righteousness and truth.
Prayers for the Fourth Week of Lent
Whenever you’re ready, click on the green link to read these beautiful spiritual affirmations for the upcoming week.
If you don’t already keep a prayer journal, maybe this Lent you’d consider experimenting with this rewarding spiritual practice. Find a special pen and a lovely notebook and copy the prayer onto a blank page, to keep and reflect on later.
If you are making your way here for the first time, we are working through a Lenten Retreat using Luis Granados’ book From Ash to Water. Sign up to receive notification of new posts by email. All are welcome!
For related posts in this retreat sequence see:
3rd Week of Lent: Thirst for Living Water
2nd Week of Lent: Transfigure Us, O Lord
3 thoughts on “4th Week of Lent: God Made Visible”
I believe God reveals himself through our meaningful interactions with each other. Over the past two weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to interact closely with animal health care professionals that helped us deal with both of our furry friends in need of special care. Many of these professionals work as volunteers. While the love they show for animals is obvious, what is not as recognizable in the moment is the love they demonstrate through the empathy they feel for the owners of pets, who are often in distress. Animals cannot speak and so they rely on their owners to “hear” and “see” and “protect” and “love” and, ultimately, “decide” for them. Sharing a life with a pet is a gift that includes lessons in unconditional love, understanding the cycle of life, joy, frustration, sorrow, and, ultimately, letting go—learning to detach oneself of the corpreal and trusting in God that you can move through the sadness of loss. Owning an animal exposes one’s vulnerability, as does opening to any authentic relationship, be it raising children and loving them deeply, caring for parents or loving a life friend or spouse. To me, that love is authenticity. That Love is Jesus. Rest in Peace, little Peppe.
Denise, I am so sorry and know that even though he was often a little rascal, you loved Peppe and will miss him sorely. Peace!
“Dogs…do not ruin their sleep worrying about how to keep the objects they have, and to obtain the objects they have not. There is nothing of value they have to bequeath except their love and their faith.” – Eugene O’Neill, from his Dalmatian, Blemie’s, last will and testament
Mark Nepo’s thoughts about taking off our gloves to experience life are so similar to Fr. Luis’ for today (Tues, 4th week of Lent): “How much love, how much light have we received? There is a river of grace coming from the heart of Christ… Do not be satisfied with less… Remember that “when love says ‘It is enough’, it dies.” Those layers of “protections” that we build as a result of pain ultimately cause us to be alienated and alone. Through grace and the courage of faith we must trust that the Holy Spirit will be there when we soften those barriers and be our authentic, curious and loving selves. We can’t control how we will be received by others, but we can know to the depths of our being that we are loved by God.