1st Sunday of Lent – 21st February
Lent is a time when we are driven out into the desert to face our own demons. In the midst of the hustle and bustle of daily life, we often are drawn to events outside of us which seem to crowd out our inner lives. There are bills to pay, people to meet, appointments to be kept and items to be purchased. Our lives can become simply a to-do list which we mark off with an inevitability there will be more things to be done. There can seem to be a relentless pressure to perform and meet the expectations of others. That there never seem enough hours in a day to attend to what we consider important.
Yet Lent is really a time when we could consider a to-be list. How have we been present to our daily activities with a spirit of thanksgiving and gratitude? What has helped us to notice the graced moments where God draws our attention to beauty, creativity and wonder? They may only be simple things like a person who unexpectedly smiles and wishes us a good day. The person who recognises that we may need encouragement with a particularly difficult task or even a person who agrees to accompany us to a doctor appointment. These are all things that we can take for granted but they transform lives.
In a similar way, we can see what most easily allows us to review what is bringing us life and leading us to a more wholesome way of living. This can be as simple as seeking to notice what we truly hunger for and what satisfies us. It can also notice what seems to be a dead weight on us and which we endure rather than carry. There are situations in life where we will all encounter difficulties but how do we find ways in which we can bring a sense of joy and peace to what to many would seem a crushing weight.
There can also be those times when we are distracted from the very good that we seek to do by things that have the appearance of being urgent rather than important. When we notice that we are spending time on things which do not help us or others we can start to make changes which open us to the more creative use of our day. We can also become aware of the direction in which our life is taking and make small course changes which direct us to a more prayerful way of living.
In the end, Lent is about preparing ourselves for the renewal which comes about through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Recognising those things which are obstacles to the way of life we seek to live, to discover the truth which will sustain us on the journey to becoming fully alive.
Fr. John Armstrong