Lent comes as the days grow longer, the darkness lifts and lifts and our hearts echo the songs of the energetic birds. Life is spilling over, nudging seeds and bulbs to break through the dark earth and open to the sun in all their hidden beauty. In this time of hope we too must wake up, shake off the sluggishness that would hold us captive and risk stepping out boldly and with courage on our journey.
In a village in Russia in the last century, the rich people protected their property by hiring people who would watch over it during the night. One evening Rabbi Naftalis was walking at the edge of one of these properties and he ran into one of the watchmen who was making his rounds.
The Rabbi asked him: “For whom are you walking, young man?” The watchman told him the name of the owner but then he added, “And you, Rabbi, for whom are you walking?” The word hit the Rabbi like a flying arrow. After a long silence, with some effort he replied, “At the moment I am not walking for anyone.”
Then the Rabbi asked, “Are you willing to become my servant?” “Of course, with pleasure,” the watchman replied, “but what will I have to do?” The Rabbi answered, “You will have to remind me for whom I am supposed to walk.” (From the Hasidic tradition).
Lent calls us to ‘Wake up!’ Take stock of your life, a life so precious and so very brief. Are we like that good Rabbi, just meandering along with no real sense that we are called to walk in God’s way? Do we allow the comforts of life, those delicious distractions to clog the arteries of our souls and block out the gentle but persistent urgings of the Spirit? Are we in danger of drifting along, ‘neither hot nor cold’, nice, pleasant folk, but people who never see Lazarus at our gate?
Now is a good time to look carefully into our hearts, to check our inner sat-nav and redirect our course. Above all, in the bombardment of today’s noise, we must find a little space and time to become aware of the great tenderness of God for us. No matter how far we have roamed, He will bring us back to the path of His mercy. “Make me know your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths” (Ps 95).
“For whom are you walking?” We are walking for Jesus, the One who shows us the way, the One who walked the road to Calvary, the One who rose from the dead on Easter morning. Let us walk with faith, with joy. “You will show me the path to life, the fullness of joy in your presence” (Ps 15).
Sr Redempta Twomey