When it comes to Lenten fasting, I find myself thinking more about time than food. As a baby boomer who grew up eager to take in a world of possibilities and as an adult scrambling to adapt in the information age, my measurements of time have grown increasingly smaller and more crowded.
Attempts to “live in the moment” have backfired for many of us. Trying to cram more and more time and space into each minute, we’re discovering that this moment, this hour, this day, is not “bigger on the inside.” We are finite in our capacity. But each moment is one of an infinite number co-existing in God’s self, a grace space larger than any of our personal containers. We connect with that sacred spaciousness when we set aside what we’ve been cramming in.
This need is particularly poignant this year as an unrelenting news feed demands attention. In a political landscape where communication comes as a spectrum of off-the-cuff to scripted, we hear it all and wonder what is authentic. Hearing is not the same as listening. Listening requires time. When we start listening to another, we first start to hear ourselves. Inner chatter ignites. Prejudices surface. But when we persist in listening, really listening, to another person a spaciousness opens.
Lent is about tending to that listening space such that we become aware of God’s presence in it. With quieted human selves, we become aware of the hunger for God usually submerged by all with which we stuff our minds, bodies and calendars. Now we can begin to hear and feel God’s hunger for us. We can act in response to the mutual hunger satisfied only by Creator and Creature reconnecting in acts of worship, devotion, mercy, and justice.
We see Jesus embodying his moments in this way. He notices, listens, hears, and acts. The legion inhabiting a man of Gerasene exits his space when Jesus notices the man’s painful predicament; listens to who he thinks he is; hears who he really is; and sends the legion on its way. (Mark 5: 1-13). Noticing Nicodemus’ night clad visit, Jesus listens to his questions; hears what the real heart questions are; and speaks back active words of truth and challenge. (John 3: 1-17)
Peter noticed something extraordinary on the Mount of Transfiguration. But he didn’t stop to listen or deepen hearing before springing to action. “Lord, …I will make three dwellings here……” Then God really got his attention with that voice from a brilliant cloud, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” It was Jesus who acted out of genuine hearing. Hearing God’s empowering word, hearing Peter’s deep need, Jesus touched them and said, “get up and do not be afraid.” (Mathew 17: 1-9)
I have no words of judgment against Peter, only gratitude to think that Jesus might teach me in the same way when I act before hearing, or fail to notice what’s really going on.
In Grace, Karen
Karen L Munson
A pastor and artist, I'm wondering while I'm wandering through God's marvelous creation.