During Lent we are invited to consider the nature of our lives and our actions in a time of reflection, prayer and penance as we prepare for Easter. We may even consider the painful times when we feel let down or we let others down.
So to begin, the other day I encountered two people. One, a generous lady, was really struggling to feel appreciated. She was hurt and vulnerable to further experiences of being unappreciated and overlooked. This struggling person bet “pound to peanuts” that the people they had regularly assisted didn’t notice nor even care…yet how could they be so sure? The other person shared how they grappled with people who seem to join their vital little community group only to leave suddenly when a seemingly better offer to join another larger, more exciting group with longer term prospects presented itself. In the later example, the person struggling to understand was tempted to see disloyalty, fickleness and selfishness as motivators. While not commenting on the rights or wrongs of motivations we can all feel like these two good people or maybe we have, at times, been someone who overlooked another’s good deeds or rushed from group to group seeking after something else only to miss the unseen wonders or good opportunities to “stay the course” right where we were (after all, you never know your current locale or contribution may be just what’s needed even tho’ you may never hear it from others!).
Do we want vulnerability, darkness and pain, however real and dismaying, to have the last word in our lives? I am guessing not! Similarly reflecting on the Archbishop’s Lenten letter do we want to give up in such times and let darkness prevail? Archbishop Mark says “…But if I peer into the darkness in the belief that God is there to be seen, then a pin-head of light appears; and if I keep looking with the eye of faith, the pin-head of light begins to grow and becomes in time the blazing fire of Easter…”. Archbishop Mark urges us “to commit to prayer and penance through the forty days of Lent, so that you will come to Easter seeing more clearly in the darkness, seeing that God has not abandoned us and that the divine plan has in no way been thwarted but continues to unfold, though in ways we neither expected nor sought.
This is the purification we now need if we are to find our way to the joy of Easter.” I trust that His goodness continues amidst all the tricky moments when we may tempted to judge or loose heart and we just sit in darkness.
In this light (excuse the pun), I offer the following reflection from http://www.ewtn.com/faith/lent/F18.htm to help (perhaps a little) when we feel vulnerable, dismayed and facing the “darkness” around us.
We could try this when challenges come our way like for the two people I began this reflection with. It may just help us in the crucial call to find our way and be more compassionate, more kindly and lead less anxious lives:
A Lenten Reflection
Give up complaining——focus on gratitude.
Give up pessimism——become an optimist.
Give up harsh judgments——think kindly thoughts.
Give up worry——trust Divine Providence.
Give up discouragement——be full of hope.
Give up bitterness——turn to forgiveness.
Give up hatred——return good for evil.
Give up negativism——be positive.
Give up anger——be more patient.
Give up pettiness——become mature.
Give up gloom——enjoy the beauty that is all around you.
Give up jealousy——pray for trust.
Give up gossiping——control your tongue.
Give up sin——turn to virtue.
Give up giving up——hang in there!
Rev. Peter Devenish-Meares