And just like that the season of Epiphany is over and Lent is upon us. Images of baby Jesus and the magi are long gone. Palms have now been burned. Pancakes have been prepared and consumed with much delight. But now the whole Church begins the journey of Lent. Tomorrow we publicly and boldly acknowledge our mortality. The cross is traced on our forehead and we are reminded that we are but dust. I think that reminder is a powerful one, and it is certainly something that we need to be reminded of.
Here at the GOTH house we have spent a lot of time recently discussing and actually attempting to do discernment. I must admit that I often get too caught up in my own thoughts of what is next for me. Throughout the season of Epiphany, I was particularly aware of fact the lectionary readings focused on many “call” stories. We heard the strange and amusing tale of young Samuel as he struggled to hear God’s call (1 Samuel 3:1-20). The same Sunday we heard the call of Nathaniel, who dropped everything and proclaimed Jesus the Messiah just because Jesus saw him under the fig tree (John 1:43-51). I often find myself feeling like Samuel and wishing to act with as much clarity and decisiveness as Nathaniel. Discernment is hard work. It takes time, and it takes patience (I should mention that is not exactly my greatest strength). I have been extremely blessed to have the opportunity to spend time at two different monasteries this month. The long periods of silence that I experienced at those places were challenging but enlightening times. As the busyness of the world faded away, I was forced to confront those things that I had been ignoring.
Discernment is an ongoing process. I am thankful that Lent is about to begin. There is something about stripping away the unnecessary things in our lives that opens our hearts to God. Whether it be through fasting, prayer, study, or whatever discipline that you choose, Lent can be a profound time of spiritual learning. I pray that this Lent we may all strive to quiet our hearts before God as we seek to hear what God is calling each one of us to do.