Looking Ahead to Advent, Looking Back at Lent

The seasons of Advent and Lent are relatively new to my Baptist-raised sensibilities. At first these seasons felt like an excuse to create a drama of ritual and contemplation. I felt awkward and foolish. I didn’t know exactly why or what we were doing. I felt out of touch, out of place and overwhelmed.

And now, with just under two years of Episcopalian experience under my belt, I still feel like these seasons are an excuse to create a drama of ritual and contemplation. But this time I feel grateful for the call to the drama of ritual and it is a welcome relief to enter a time of contemplation. Trouble is, I wish that time was now. I feel I’ve lost focus and I’d really like to find it again.19Unfocused

“Those who would climb to a lofty height must go by steps, not leaps.” -St. Gregory the Great, from a letter to Augustine of Canterbury

But even as I write these words, it occurs to me that there is no reason why I cannot create my own season of ritual and contemplation. I have been playing with the idea of creating my own Sabbath day — my own day of rest and yearning and immersion into arms of God.

I long for a greater acceptance — not understanding, for I’m not sure that’s really possible, but acceptance — acceptance of what is. I yearn for a more peaceful demeanor. I crave a form of prayer that will dwell within me, that prayer without ceasing. That knowing joy, pervasive peace and unrelenting courage.

I wish finding focus was as easy as this…19Focus

…as easy as changing a setting in our mind’s eye. But maybe the hard part isn’t changing the setting, it’s finding the right button…

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~ by Kimberly Mason on August 20, 2009.

7 Responses to “Looking Ahead to Advent, Looking Back at Lent”

  1. This post reminded me that something I had prayed VERY hard for last night came to fruition today. I was a little teary that I had not automatically offered a prayer of thanks as soon as it happened. Thanks for the reminder!

  2. Fret not, God loves you – John 13:1
    Faint not, God holds you – Psalm 139:10
    Fear not, Good keeps you – Psalm 121:5

  3. “Ordinary time” is sometimes long and hard… did I mention LONG? :C) I know what you mean about looking forward to the time of deep reflection and longing.

  4. You touch on some very common challenges! I love the short seasons precisely because they do have a focus and are rich with images and themes. Ordinary time, not so much! Sometimes I think that the drama and ritual of the other seasons provides a structure of formation, and ordinary time releases us from that structure to allow our spirits to go where they need to go. Sort of the way the discipline of an art form frees us to create beyond the bounds of the discipline. I don’t know if that makes sense–I don’t want to take up too much space here! In any event, I pray you are able to find/create a space that allows you to seek the focus you desire.

    • Ahhh, I get it! That makes perfect sense, in fact, “frees us to create beyond the bounds of the discipline” makes perfect sense. I am reminded of Diane Walker’s recent post about Thomas Merton’s observations on keeping a journal where we keep delving into the same area of discovery, going deeper each time (hopefully, that is). So Ordinary Time is a less of a summer vacation (which, from what I hear, God only trusts Episcopalians to take 😉 ) but more of a time of freedom in which we are able to pursue our own spiritual path.

      Oh my, there is SO much more that could be said on this topic…! Thank you, Anne!

  5. I get this in such a deep way. You are not alone in that restless, willy-nilly feeling. I know I pray God’s voice is greater than the world’s daily during Ordinary Time and I pray that I can actually hear and notice it. If it’s not right up in my face I may be missing it. Durn. I often wonder if I, like those waiting in the desert for Moses’ descent, become so restless and short sighted that I can’t feel in my bones the blessings around me and make the golden cow. Focus, focus, focus, kneel, pray, breathe…focus, focus, focus, kneel, pray, breathe…

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