Lent began Ash Wednesday. I guess this makes it Lent: Day 3. I told myself that for Lent, I would attempt to build a quiet life — or rather rebuild one. I’ve been trying to rebuild a place of quiet back into my life. In fact, I began seeing a spiritual director to do this. I should mention I started with my spiritual director over a year ago. Still, no consistent quiet time. Why? Too much grief. Too many tears.
I used to sit and have a quiet time every day. That’s what we called it back then: quiet time. We also talked about discipleship. But words become dated, dulled, associated with things far afield from their original intent. “Evangelical” used to be a theological word. Now it’s a political word liked to Jerry Falwell and, by proxy, Fox News. Prayer and meditation used to be part of the Christian life. But say “meditation” and some people think you’re calling on Ganesh, the Hindu god with blue skin, eight arms and an elephant head. They have thrown off the word “discipleship” for “spiritual formation.” I can’t read “spiritual formation” without seeing a bunch of monks making beer in a labyrinth. So much for words. But it all comes down to developing some kind of time alone in the quiet, with oneself and God.
And I suck at it. Too many tears.
But on Ash Wednesday, I tweeted a link to a blog post on Lent that I’d written two years ago. A twitter buddy responded that she wanted to try Lent this year, and did I have any suggestions?
Uh oh! Well, now I’m on the hook! (Thank you, Jennifer!) So I replied that I’d try to write every day.
This is my post today. It’s hard to be silent. It’s hard to come into quiet with one’s own self. Oh, it may be easy when you’re relatively young and your life is spooling out ahead of you; the road is unknown and the answers are going to be “Yes” and “Amen.” But when your life is at least half over, the answers are more likely to be “Ack” and “Oy vey.” Or sighs and tears.
Tears. On Tuesday, Frederick Buechner posted an excerpt from his book, “Beyond Words.”
You never know what may cause them. The sight of the Atlantic Ocean can do it, or a piece of music, or a face you’ve never seen before. A pair of somebody’s old shoes can do it. Almost any movie made before the great sadness that came over the world after the Second World War, a horse cantering across a meadow, the high school basketball team running out onto the gym floor at the start of a game. You can never be sure. But of this you can be sure. Whenever you find tears in your eyes, especially unexpected tears, it is well to pay the closest attention.
They are not only telling you something about the secret of who you are, but more often than not God is speaking to you through them of the mystery of where you have come from and is summoning you to where, if your soul is to be saved, you should go to next.
This is something I dealt with just last week in spiritual direction. Tears point to something. I am afraid to bring forth that longing or sadness out in the open, for fear God will mock it, condemn it, squash it like a bug. When in reality, God will more likely honor it — not indulge it or condemn it, but honor it for what it is, and then point the way forward.
That’s all I have for Friday, February 20. Hopefully I’ll have the courage to write every day.
Peace. Tears. Or whatever comes.