Last week, Pastor Eric Oliver's column in “Along the Way” talked about Lent being an opportunity to add something to our lives or the lives of others rather than giving up things that, as he put it, “aren't good for us anyway.”
I think he has an outstanding point. What practices during Lent can help enrich others' lives and our own?
One practice is to take to heart the following: “We are human beings, not human doings.”
This is a quote from a Lenten meditation email I receive from the Society of St. John the Evangelist. This particular quote is from Brother Mark Brown. This quote really made me stop short; it got me to wondering how much of Lent I am spending “doing” and how much I am spending “being” in God's presence.
In today's world, many of us are so focused on doing. Note that I said “us.” Most of us are not immune to this.
For example, it is Lent, and we have a number of programs at our churches, and we have the wonderful community Lenten lunches, and we may have given up some things or added some personal or family practices to our schedules. All because we are supposed to be “doing something” for Lent. And, these are good things to be doing. So we're busy.
Well, whether it's Lent or another time, many of us succumb to the seeming need today to be busy every minute and to ensure that when we commit to something, we are “doing” something about it.
It's Lent, so we have to do more than we were before it was Lent! And I agree to an extent.
But have we also left space for being? For taking time to be in God's presence, in silence and in prayer to let God do the “doing” so that he might form, guide and direct us in His way?
Are we making time to be where or in a state of being in which God speaks to us most consistently? Perhaps for you it is while doing something. Or, perhaps it is when you are in the woods, or in the quiet of morning with your coffee, or during some alone time in the break room, or when walking your dog, or perhaps you can just find some space to sit in silence.
If we do not take time to let God be the “doer” and we the “being,” then how do we know that we are doing what he wants? How do we know that our lives are directed by Him? How do we know that we are serving him first rather than ourselves or others?
Last time I wrote for the “Along the Way,” I talked about the importance of prayer. Well I think that listening-making time for God to guide us is really the other half of prayer.
With God, we tend to do most of the “talking,” but finding time to listen to Him is so important. Ironically, during special church seasons, we sometimes make less time to listen because we're busy doing so much else. The “so much else” we're doing is very important, but it is most effective when the doing of it is truly guided by the Lord.
Psalm 37:7: “Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him.”
The Rev. Mary Norton is pastor of the Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Corry.