One thing our society seems addicted to is “more:” more money, fame, power, possessions, and pleasures. We hear that our beloved St Francis, like many of the devout, grew up surrounded by these things but rebelled in search of a simpler life in the woods and fields, swearing off riches for a state of subservience and simplicity to seek and find God. There, he found humility and delight and the present moment, ecstatically jumping for joy upon discovering and helping God’s creations, truly becoming “wild awake.” Many of us today long to live more deeply, with greater more meaningfully-placed attention.
Lent, celebrated during the 40 days before Eater, can help us grow closer to God and His Son. It is characterized as a time of deprivation, fasting, and penitence which may fail to remind us that it is, more importantly, an enhancement and enlargement of our lives spiritually. It is often with a guilty shrug that we try to swear off the bedevilments that afflict and distract us from living with greater awareness of the more important things in life. Like sleepwalkers, we miss many precious moments with God because our eyes are fastened to the TV or cell phone screen, or other distractions. Mary Oliver, in a poem called Gethsemane, writes of the disciples whom Jesus asked to wait with him in the Garden. This could have been redemptive and memorable time with the man they were about to lose to crucifixion. Much to their Savior’s disappointment, their eyes grew heavy and sleep stole their consciousness. How many of us sleepwalk through life, finding fault rather than gratitude with God’s creations, including our fellows? How many use drugs and alcohol to obliviate these creations? How many strive to put themselves first in life before acknowledging and loving God?
Henry David Thoreau removed himself to Walden Pont for a time, “to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life and see if I could learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” His famous book, Walden, shows numerous encounters of his amazement and wonder in God’s world which can teach us to do likewise.
Much religious thought finds that attachment to the false, shallow and impure stands in the way of attachment to the true, deep and pure life which God meant for us. Lent is a season to practice and adopt a change of focus and become “wildly awake” to God.