‘What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare?’
William Henry Davies
‘What are you doing for Lent, then?’ is a question I’m often asked and probably you as well. Even for those who wouldn’t classify themselves as religiously observant, there is an understanding that Lent is traditionally a time when things are given up, indulgencies and luxuries denied with any financial benefit being given to those in greater need. It’s a time of reflection and self-denial based on the account and experience of Jesus spending 40 days alone in the wilderness before he began his earthly ministry.
Increasingly however, and to my delight, is the idea that it should become a time of ‘taking something on’ rather than ‘giving something up’. It’s a more positive approach and brings with it the real possibility for change in our own lives and in the places in which we live and work. Recent promotions for ‘Center Parcs’ – the spelling has always irritated me – have made good use of William Davies’ poem ‘Leisure’. Its words encourage us and entice us to do something different; to take time out to consider greater things and to take time to enjoy the life we are living and have been given.
The focus of his words is to direct us towards an appreciation of the natural world, its beauty and grandeur and, after storm Ciara and Dennis, we can also reflect upon its awesome power, but perhaps we can use it as well to help us consider and think upon the things of God, for spiritual refreshment and understanding often come when we create the time and opportunity to pause … breathe in … and think. Let the wonder of the amazing environment within which we live speak to us of greater things, for when we take time to be still, that is when we create the opportunity to hear our own heart speaking and when we can do that, it becomes easier for us to hear the voice of God himself.
So why not take something on this Lent? Why not create some designated space and time to be still and to ponder, to meditate and to consider the greater things of our lives? It might be pulling over on a journey for a few minutes, seeking a secluded corner in a lunch break or settling into a favoured armchair. I often encourage members of the church family to, ‘have a coffee with God’. We make arrangements to enjoy time with others over a brew so why not with God himself?
As we enter Lent there will be plenty of opportunities to engage in something different, from a personal 40 day journey of short reflections that consider the beauty and wonder of God’s creation (booklets available in church), creative prayer and meditation stations, flower festivals, community meals and a rich variety of services offering space for rejoicing as well as that all important quiet reflection. Easter day will begin once again with a breakfast of barbecued fish on the shore of Semerwater at 6am and it would be wonderful to welcome you there. Some of these things might be new to you, but why not use Lent as a time to explore something different? Experience something different?
I love the promise of God that he is not hiding from us and that if we want to find him we can:
‘You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart’ Jer 29:13
May the weeks that lie ahead bring you refreshment and a new perspective on the greater things of life and what it means to live it – as God intended – to the full.