In putting aside all preoccupations we encounter our Creator.
This Lent I am using Journey to Easter by Pope Benedict XVI as my spiritual reading. This is a collection of reflections he used when he was Cardinal Ratzinger and lead the 1983 Lenten retreat for Pope John Paul II. It is good for me to read these words. The last week has been a week of putting things aside. First the arrival of a six-month-old Labrador puppy has diverted my attention from a number of other things on my to-do list. Then the arrival of the flu to our household further took me away from a great many household tasks. We all seem to be on the mend now and our puppy has settled into a routine, but these recent detours from my agenda have served to show me that my agenda just isn’t that important. Several times in the last week I found myself having to just sit quietly as I supervised our puppy or as I nursed my own or someone else’s illness. I used that time to pray a Rosary and lift someone up in prayer during each of the decades. So often I find my prayers are said on the run. Forcing myself to sit quietly and spend time in prayerful reflection has been a blessing. Pope Benedict understands this. His introductory reflection focuses on Jesus’ retreat in the desert:
First, the desert is a place of silence, of solitude. It is the absence of the exchanges of daily life, its noise and its superficiality. The desert is the place of the absolute, the place of freedom, which set man before the ultimate demands. Not by chance is the desert the place where monotheism began. In that sense, it is a place of grace. In putting aside all preoccupations we encounter our Creator.
So perhaps what I have learned this past week is that my Lenten journey may be a little less scripted than I originally thought. Instead of making my Lenten activities a check-list of spiritual tasks, I think I will work harder to let myself enter the “desert” each day and find the grace of an encounter with Christ.