Meister Eckhart, a thirteenth-fourteenth century philosopher, theologian, and mystic said, “The reason we are not able to see God is the faintness of our desire.” Lent, the forty days prior to Easter, is an opportunity to fan the flames of desire!
Why would anyone want to see God? Thomas Keating answered, “Happiness is intimacy with God, the experience of God’s loving presence. Without that experience, nothing else quite works; with it, almost anything works.” Such intimacy requires, however, “that we allow our dark side to come to full consciousness and then to let it go and give it to God. We recognize our own ideas of happiness are not going to work, and we turn our lives over completely to God.”
Lent encourages followers of Christ to more completely turn their lives over to God in several ways. We are reminded of prayer as our normal way of being is interrupted through fasting. Fasting is doing without something highly valued such as coffee, coke, dessert, television, or video games. Attending special services and participating in special devotions or studies can act as a prod to be penitential remembering who I am and the need for God’s grace I have. Finally, to commit to an act of service to the least among us—serving at a homeless shelter, visiting a local nursing home, writing to someone in prison or a rehabilitation center, raising money to increase justice and mercy in the world can bring a closeness to Christ as His example of service is followed.
It is important to undergird what we do to deepen our intimacy with Christ with the clear understanding we cannot earn merit. Christ did not need to be crucified and resurrected if it was possible to earn our way into heaven. Instead, Lent is a door we open to invite the Holy Spirit to come live within us in new and deeper ways. The Welcoming Prayer is a means to that end.
Welcome is the sacred symbol of intention to consent to the presence and action of the Indwelling Spirit. The more we live life according to the Spirit, the less we live according to the flesh. Such intimacy with God brings deep happiness even when life is impossible. Gently say the word “Welcome” to yourself as you let go of those attitudes and actions that separate us from intimacy with the Savior. .
Repeat the letting go sentences to open to the healing action of the Holy Spirit within.
I let go of my desire for security/survival. Welcome
I let go of my desire for approval/affection Welcome
I let go of my desire for power/control Welcome
I let go of my desire to change (any situation, person, event, emotion, or feeling) Welcome
Welcome the Holy Spirit more fully into your life each day of Lent and experience the joy only God can bring.