Lenten Longing: Our Longing for God IS God

Lenten Longing: Longing for God IS God

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Many years ago I lamented to my spiritual director my deep, aching longing for God. Sr. Rose Clarisse Gadourey responded, “I see our deep longing for God as the presence of God within us, longing for us to turn deeper within ourselves to find God in our longing itself.” The poet Coleman Barks says: “We long for beauty, even as we swim within it.”

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Lent is from the Anglo Saxon word for Spring. I look outside at the frozen earth, and imagine the seeds beneath the mountains of snow. My longing for the new life of spring, Sr. Rose Clarisse would say, is already the beginning of that new life itself. One winter, when I was going through a particularly difficult time in my life, I was on a weekend retreat at a place called Our Lady of Peace in Narragansett, RI. During our free time, I walked bundled up tightly in the frigid cold, along the seawall that runs the length of Narragansett Beach, a boundary between the street and the tumultuous winter waves, crashing against jagged rocks. Also on retreat that weekend was a man who was a professor of oceanography at the University of Rhode Island. When I shared with him how my heart felt like the grey and frozen earth during this season of winter, he told me that the ocean during these coldest months is actually teeming with new life. He told me that on a microscopic level, oceanic life was growing, exploding exponentially beneath the surface.

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What is your Lenten longing? What is the Spring you ache for in your heart? What would it look like for you to experience the burst of Spring’s new life in your life?

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St. Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179)spoke of this as our own “greening.” She lived in the part of Germany that is called the Rhineland. I have not been there – yet – but some of my favorite mystics were from that region. The photographs I have seen of the Rhineland are lush, verdant green. It always amazes me how some places on this earth are teeming with mystic experiences and some are not. What is it about the physical landscape that speaks to the inner landscape of our souls?

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Here in the Northeast, it has been a particularly hard winter. There is so much snow that we do not know what to do with it. When you pull out onto a major road, you edge out slowly to see past the snowbanks which block your view, whispering a prayer that the traffic zooming by will see you. We ache, we long, for spring’s thawing. Yet I trust that the greening’s arrival has begun already in my yearning, and in yours.
Over my kitchen sink for many years was scotch-taped a quote from a Joyce Rupp poem:

And every year
the dull and dead in us
meets our Easter challenge:
to be open to the unexpected,
to believe beyond our security,
to welcome God in every form,
and trust in our own greening.
(from Out of the Ordinary: Prayers, Poems and Reflections for Every Season)

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This day, may you know your own greening.

Linda Forsberg, Copyright February 24, 2015

Photos:  Winter, Second Beach, Newport, RI; winter view from our front porch, Newport, RI; Five Stones Beach, Newport, RI; Jules’ photo from Glacier National Park; Wentworth, NH; Santa Fe, New Mexico

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