Untangling the threads

Daily Reading for February 21

The patient process of untangling the threads of voices, of settling down to the center was the lifelong work of the desert. It is our work as well. Like the desert ascetics, we must learn the art of inner listening. . . . Lent is a time for tuning our ears, for listening carefully, for discerning the texture and quality of our own demons, for attending to God’s unceasing, creative plea amidst the noise of cultural pressures, the busyness of life, and our own self-limiting habits. Some of our Lenten discernments may be fairly straightforward. We may have become inattentive in our eating or drinking and need to give our oversatiated bodies a holiday. We may need to cultivate a more rhythmic pattern of prayer or bring the scriptures into clearer focus in our everyday life. We may need to mend the pieces of a broken relationship. We may need to take some of the time we hoard so tightly for work and lavish it on our children or friends. We may be called to respond to the cry of the poor, to feed the hungry, to shelter the homeless, or to visit the prisoner. All these can rightly be discerned as God’s prompting to a freer life.

But the ongoing process of discernment, which I think is the more subtle invitation of the Lenten season, is not always so straightforward. It involves a radical and risky self-evaluation and a commitment to rethink and rework everything you know and are. God is always calling us out of ourselves, into a more generous freedom, so that we can love and serve ourselves and one another more authentically.

From The Rising: Living the Mysteries of Lent, Easter, and Pentecost by Wendy M. Wright (Upper Room Books, 1994).

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