Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Meditation on This Sunday's Gospel

The readings for Sunday, March 18, 2018:

First Reading: Jeremiah 31:31-34

Psalm: Psalm 51:1-13 (Psalm 51:1-12 NRSV)

Psalm (Alt.): Psalm 119:9-16

Second Reading: Hebrews 5:5-10

Gospel: John 12:20-33

Another reading about light and darkness. I love the last verse, the one that mentions becoming children of the light. How much I want to be a child of the light. How hard it is to keep from slipping into dimness.

My standard response to a Gospel reading that reminds us to be light to the world is to give myself more duties and obligations. I'll pray fixed hour prayers throughout the day. I'll tithe 20% instead of 10%. I'll find an hour a day to read the Bible. I'll create spiritual art. I'll go on 4 retreats this year, instead of one or two.

But what if my approach is wrong? What if God would like me to calm down, to be still, to rest and get to know the presence of the divine?

Years ago, I did a labyrinth walk.  I held a candle in a tall, skinny glass jar, which I thought would protect the flame. I noticed that the faster I walked, the more my flame flickered. When I walked with a slow, deliberative pace, the flame burned brighter. Instantly, I made some connections.

I spend much of my weeks racing from this commitment to that commitment. Few of them are burdensome, yet my pace often leaves me exhausted. Perhaps that's the reason that lately I've been drawn to the contemplative side of religious traditions.

Don't give me more books to read. Give me a Bible passage and let me walk the labyrinth--give my body something to do so that my mind can ruminate. Don't ask me to give more money--but do give me information so that I can be sure that my money is well spent. Don't give me more tasks to do--but do give me more time, so that I can do the tasks I've been called to do with a degree of completion that will please us all.

Our modern lives make it difficult for us to find our way to God. And if we don't find our way to God on a regular basis, it will be hard to be filled with light so that we can radiate God's love to the world.

So, perhaps instead of adding more to our spiritual lives, we should begin to hollow out some spaces. Then we'll have room to invite God in.

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