By Mikaila Gawryn
Penny Ford describes the origins of lent in this way: "In Matthew 4:1-11, Jesus hiked into the wilderness. Maybe he needed some time with God to sort through the major changes happening in his life. Maybe he was searching for direction and answers. Maybe he needed to get away from family, friends and the familiar routine in order to see God, and himself, more clearly." I love that Ford's description of Jesus is so human. Yes of course, Jesus was going through many changes, but I rarely consider that he might have been disoriented by them. Although I understood that Jesus' time in the dessert was part of the Lenten foundation I had never, until reading Penny Ford's words, considered Jesus taking 40 days to "get away from it all."
This year my Lenten practice consisted of a daily body prayer and weekly meal cooked for loved ones. It has been very fruitful, but looking back I wish I had read Penny Ford's words earlier. I might have chosen to incorporate "getting away from it all" as Jesus did. Looking back I have definitely been sorting through big decisions, discerning direction and seeking clarity in this season. Even though I did not create a habit of siting in God's creation so as to facilitate these processes I wound up there a number of times, and I have definitely been blessed in the process.
One experience in particular comes to mind. The memory is of an afternoon spent at Spring Lake in Santa Rosa, California. The lake is bordered by small rolling hills and walking paths, and is of course drenched in sunshine. While visiting Santa Rosa I was considering moving to the area in order to do an internship on an organic farm. I've since decided to take the position, but for the afternoon I was still discerning. I recognized that the internship would allow me to pursue long-term passions. However, it would also bring a number of significant changes to my life. As I walked through the meadows with a friend I soaked up the sun and considered the possibilities ahead.
Relaxing in God's creation brought new aspects of my decision into focus, and allowed me to consider my options without the distractions of home or the city. It was a blessing that I had not expected to receive.
If you are attracted to beauty in nature, then that is a good place to go; you will find God there. But what you will really find is God finding you.
- Fr. Larry Gillick S.J.
I am looking forward to beginning a new adventure, and I am thankful for the afternoon I had at Spring Lake. Father Larry Gillick, a Jesuit priest once said "If you are attracted to the beauty of nature, then that is a good place to go; you will find God there. But what you will really find is God finding you. God comes to you according to you."
As you enter into the last few days of Lent I pray that you would find places of beauty that allow you to see yourself and God more clearly. I pray that you will find God in those places and know that God is finding you there too.
Ford, Penny. Lent 101. Upper Room. http://www.upperroom.org.