Kneeling at the communion rail at the late night Christmas Eve service I locked eyes with the baby Jesus reaching out while in the arms of his mother, Mary, and was immediately brought to tears. I knew then that I was about to go on a journey with my friend and teacher. Since then there have been many moments of tears, laughter and questions shared quietly between us. The season of Lent created space for these moments both in time and soul. This was much needed space in a hectic life, both internal and external.

Many years I give up some minor thing (screen time, some food or other, caffeine) and go through the motions of Lent. This year I chose to give up something I struggle with daily: my frustration at even the most minor thing. It was not a perfect experience. I failed and restarted frequently. Yet, it was the opening I needed to continue the journey of growth started at the communion rail. It opened me to listen for the whispers in the stillness, to continually let go of my frustrations, my self, and freely listen.

I am, in part, an auditory learner and the Lord knows this. I often retreat into the quiet solitude of my inner island where all other senses diminish and I can truly, earnestly and comfortably listen. To many an outside observer it looks like I’m asleep…admittedly I often slip away to this place while sleeping…and my soul continues listening and learning while the body rests. Many time I am fully aware of my surroundings, but focusing only on auditory stimulus: music, singing, the nuances of a lecture/sermon/or other talk, the still small voice speaking directly to my soul. These are the times I crawl up into my Father’s lap and rest.

Like Advent, Lent can be a time of anticipation; a time where we are seeking the next best thing. We spend our time walking with Jesus through his life and, as Fr. John discussed, asking “what’s next?” We rush headlong through the story without stopping to listen because we think we know and we want to rush on to the next stop. Taking this time to let go of my frustrations allowed me to slow down and not rush for the “what next.” This allowed me to journey through this Holy Week from the joy of Jesus’ triumphal entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to the humble service of the last supper and the washing of the disciples’ feet on Maundy Thursday to the betrayal, trial, torture and death of Good Friday to the emptiness (no, stillness) of Holy Saturday to the triumph over death that is the Easter resurrection with joy. The “madman in a world of sad ghosts” type of joy. The wake up smiling and laughing at the joyous joke’s on you moments at 3:30 am everyday from Maundy Thursday to Easter Monday. Alleluia, the Lord is Risen! The Lord is Risen indeed!

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