SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT
Genesis 22:1-2, 9-13, 15-18
Once, while hiking on an autumn morning so many years back that now I find myself wondering if it really took place, I found myself standing in a rambling field of wild daisies all dressed in laced cobwebs and sprinkled with that morning’s dew. It was, as fields of daisies go, quite ordinary yet also for those moments there quite extraordinary as well, enough to make me pause and sigh at the wonder of it all. It was then, quite unexpectedly, that the veil ever so briefly lifted, and in that instant I saw more clearly than I had ever seen before that what is at the heart of being a daisy and what is at the heart of all that is and what is at the heart of being me was one and the same, that in some mysterious way all of life is somehow connected, somehow whole.
Now, so many years later, I remember that moment, I suspect, because it changed the way I look at all of life. There were no voices, nor was it simply a new idea I’d never had before. It was, as I said previously, as if for a moment lost in time the veil that veils us from eternity and all things whole was mysteriously lifted and then slipped back just as mysteriously. Yet even now, I ask myself if it was no more than my imagination, or perhaps the touch of autumn’s breath that simply caught me off guard, or could it have been a glimpse of another world, another time? Why else would I still remember that day from so long ago, when for one brief moment daisies became transfigured with a breath of divinity?
One Sunday morning, I spoke of such moments in a homily describing them in general terms as times when it seems as if God might break into our consciousness, of moments when the ordinary is seen so clearly as also holy. After Mass, a woman came up wanting to tell me of such a moment in her life. She said she’d never told anyone of it for fear of what others might think of her. She went on to describe how one day as she was walking up the sidewalk to her front door, the tree in front of her home spoke to her. She didn’t tell me what she had heard and I didn’t ask. She only wanted to tell me that she had had such a moment, and for her it was holy. I could only think of Moses and the burning bush out of which God spoke to him, and I said so to her. She only smiled and thanked me as she made her way on home.
There are many folks who have such moments though they rarely speak of them, perhaps wondering if anyone would understand and perhaps also because they seem too holy to be casually discussed. Like Peter, James and John coming down from the mountain of transfiguration, they keep the moment to themselves. They are the times when our lives reveal themselves to be transfigured with the very presence of God.
In some curious way, Lent can be such a time if we take Lent seriously. No doubt it will not be as unsettling as hearing nature speak to our passing by, but the simple awareness that comes with a life lived prayerfully and with quiet reflection can make known to us how our God is laced through and through, all the moments of our day. It will begin to affect the choices we make, the way we speak to one another, what we do with our money, who we spend time with, and what we do with the time that is given us. Whatever we choose to do with these days called Lent will begin to shape us and form us in the image of the one who leads us and is our very breath. It will all take place without our awareness until one day we stand at the edge of our lives and recognize then the one who has made us new, a taste of the resurrection promised to those who follow the Lord Jesus.
When have you most clearly felt God’s presence?
What did you learn from such a moment?