Lent is a time of fasting, reflection and fighting our devils in the desert.
We enter into it with Jesus' own 40 days of fasting in mind. What sustained him? I cannot help but think it was his memory of what happened beforehand.
Right before Jesus was led into the silence and solitude of the wilderness for 40 days, he was baptized where he received an image and words. At that time He saw the Holy Spirit descend upon Him like a dove and He heard the Father’s voice say from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved, with you I am well pleased.”
Whether or not we're participating in a Lenten fast, we will come up against plenty of temptation, wilderness and desert seasons. What image or words will help us remember who is with us and who we are? For God knows all of us need something to hold onto.
If you do not have a sustaining image, pause in prayer and ask God for an image or memory to accompany you. "God, what image would you like to offer me in the quiet of my heart? I remain open to You, to whatever You would like to bring to mind, whether familiar or new. If nothing comes, I patiently wait knowing You will bring an image if it is needed. I go on with my day trusting you, for even the Cloud of Unknowing is an image of trust."
As to the words, perhaps you already have been offered a phrase like 14th century Julian of Norwich's "All shall be well" or a Scripture. It may be the perfect time to bring it to mind again. We can also remember that the very words offered to Jesus by his Abba are offered to us as well. We can pause to listen and receive the words, “You are my child, the beloved, with you I am well pleased.” Close your eyes and imagine them spoken to you. Receive them again and again, allowing these words to move from your eyes and ears, to head, heart and every cell of your body, like Mary, Jesus' mother did (and perhaps taught him to!).
God knows exactly what can and will sustain you in the times of wilderness and desert. Sometimes what is truest is not what is seen or heard with our physical eyes and ears but what is hidden within us, what has been treasured and pondered in our hearts. Lent invites us to return to and remember those words and images.
A blessing for the journey:
"May God-given life-giving images and words companion each of us in times we feel lost, alone, struggling, weary, thirsty and hungry. May we be reminded of our belovedness, a security that can sustain us. And in remembering, may our eyes be opened that we may see the belovedness of others and become life-giving images and words to all who are lost, alone, struggling, weary, thirsty and hungry."
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Kasey is a scarf, ball and club juggling spiritual director just outside of Nashville, TN. Play helps her Type-A, Enneagram 1 personality relax, creating space for poetry and other words to emerge. She also likes playing with theological ideas like perichoresis, and all the ways we're invited into this Triune dance.