Think of March and most of us, Irish or not, think of St. Patrick’s Day. Some think of it as a day of fun when we are all Irish and plan for an evening out. School kids make sure they have something green on to be sure they don’t get pinched and we see shamrocks adorning windows everywhere.
It is the shamrock I think of when thinking of March and St. Patrick’s day because of the meaningful story of St. Patrick preaching outdoors one day. He was attempting to explain the concept of the Trinity and the people he was speaking to were staring back blankly clearly not understanding. Patrick reached down and plucked a shamrock from the ground and used it to point out the three leaves, clearly separate but always joined.
I don’t know if that story is true or just part of the lore that happens when recalling significant people. What I do know is that there are examples of things we can learn from all around us if we just slow down and see them.
Little children have this sense of the miracles and lessons around them. What an awesome feeling it would be to slow down, focus and relearn what it feels like to wonder and imagine the possibilities in the things we so take for granted. A dandelion is weed to me until it is held in the outstretched hand of a beloved child. Then it becomes what perhaps God intends for it to be, a gift of beauty and love. How many such gifts might be around us?
Slow down, look, listen, wonder and imagine.
A Balanced Life….
"Lord, help me keep my life in balance." Our church choir presented a choral reading of that title in church not long ago. People were asking for copies of the reading and ready to hear it presented "again soon."
How come? What's the excitement over one piece of church music with a few words read between choruses? The title tells it all: everybody's looking for a balanced life and none of us seem to know where to find it. Oh, we all have our ideas. Balance through nutrition. Balance through meditation. Balance through focusing on my own needs - no, on my family's needs - no, on the needs of the community...Argh! Too many things coming from too many directions and where are the filters we need to find a balance for each of those demands?
Christian churches throughout the world are living the season of Lent, a period of six weeks prior to Easter, when we attempt to narrow our focus, minimize our distractions, and draw our attention to God, the source of the balance for which we all seek. Lent can become just one more thing to "do" - extra guilt for things we think we "should" be doing, extra anxiety as we prepare for Easter celebrations.
Or Lent can be a time of quiet, a few moments found for devotional reading, gathering with others for prayer and worship, time for families to talk about what resurrection means in our lives, time to focus on "being" instead of "doing". Lent is the perfect season of the church year for seeking balance, made for seeking God's presence in all that we are, in every facet of our lives.
There is no easy answer for "how do I get my life in balance." But there is no time like now, in this season of preparation, to filter out the external distractions and, with God's help, center our lives around the One who can bring focus and meaning into an out-of-balance existence. Take time for God this Lenten season. Take time to rebalance your life.