My Lenten reading this year is a book by Ruth Burrows, OCD: a Carmelite sister whose entire life is devoted to prayer. Our assumption of such people may be that they are somehow particularly holy; perhaps closer to God than the rest of us who are so distracted by the busyness of the world. Yet, in her book, Sr Ruth describes how for most of her life she has felt quite the opposite — keenly aware of how much she falls short of God’s holiness and grace.
While we may be surprised to learn this about her, there is an invitation here. For, it seems to me that the more time we spend in God’s presence, the more we come to realize exactly how much we need God’s grace. By contrast, when we are wrapped up in ourselves — our independence, our busy lives, our very important meetings — it is easy to forget about God and begin to think that we can go it alone. It is easy to skip prayer or devotion as optional, seeing it as an intrusion on our regular lives.
Liturgy — prayer — IS an intrusion. It is meant to be so. It is meant to disrupt our daily schedule so that we do not get so wrapped up in ourselves that we forget who gives us breath; so that we do not become so self-important that we forget the world will not collapse if we take a break. We are treasures in God’s eyes — not because of how busy our calendar is, or how important we are in our jobs, our families, or our tasks. We are precious in God’s sight simply because God loves us.
God is always with us. Slowing down to be with God, the One who tenderly loves us, is something we must choose.
We all wander away from time to time. Lent is a perfect opportunity to come back… to let God interrupt us, to let ourselves be loved.