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Fifth Sunday of Lent 2012

Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart.
Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.

Carl Gustav Jung

The refrain for today's psalm resounds with "Create in me a clean heart, O God." The psalmist speaks of God's steadfast love and abundant mercy, of one having a new and right and willing spirit, of restoring joy. These speak to me of the heart and soul of what the invitation of these Lenten days is all about.

Jeremiah proclaims a new covenant in which God's Word is written not on stone but in our hearts. Hebrews reassures us that Jesus' own prayers were indeed heartfelt, at times anguished, yet always humbly obedient, with an obedience born of a listening heart derived from his lived experience. John tells of Jesus' response to the Greeks who had come to seek Him out at festival time. Jesus begins, "The hour has come", followed by images of dying and bearing fruit, of serving, of glorifying God by our living. And in each I again hear a Lenten invitation to go inside. Like those in the Scriptures, our own personal stories can also issue a Lenten invitation.

One such story of mine revolves around some personal heart related issues that needed investigating. I sat to pray one day with Nan Merrill's "Psalms for Praying: an Invitation to Wholeness", opening a page at random, as I often did. My breathing paused as I read what literally fell open before me in Psalm 25, "Relieve the blocks in my heart that keep me separated from you." In that moment there came a surety that my "other" heart also needed some deeper investigating.

Embracing the daily encounters of our lives amidst the seemingly added invitations of Lent may indeed at times feel daunting. A friend and I climbed Gros Morne many years ago, a daunting challenge indeed. While it looked and felt like it was all uphill, we reached a plateau at several points, where we could breathe easy and savour how far we had come. It also allowed time to restore and refocus our energies as we prepared for the next climb. Lent, too, is a lot like that.

For me, our personal and communal journeys with God and into God are meant to be, at heart, a joyful, enlivening experience, amidst life's many challenges and delights. Creation itself shouts with joy in its cycles of dying and being reborn, of growth and stillness, of letting go and letting be. Creation awakens awe and wonder in the attentive heart. So, too, does the Lenten invitation I hear: "Awaken! Live!" .

What blocks might we become more aware of in our own hearts?
What personal stories of our own speak to us of Lent?
What more is needed to restore and refocus our own energies?
How are we being invited to glorify God in our living differently?







Sheila Leonard, PBVM


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