Monday of the 2nd Week of Lent
Rescue us for the sake of your name
Come back to me with all your heart
Don’t let fear keep us apart
Trees do bend though straight and tall
So must we to others call
Long have I waited for
Your coming home to me
And living deeply our new life
The wilderness will lead you
To the place where I will speak
Integrity and justice
You shall know.
– Hosea (Come back to me) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=czPF5B1aQ1Y
A few years back, this beautiful hymn kept playing in my head during this week of Lent. It is after all, one of the Lenten staples. I am always struck with a quivering lip and hot tears welling in my eyes at the second verse “the wilderness will lead you, to the place where I will speak.” And I am speechless to explain why.
Perhaps, it is because I was going through a kind of wilderness. At the same time, I knew too, that the source of my tears were a deep longing for a closeness that I had missed with Christ, my lover. This passionate love we shared was so strong, that I would feel Jesus living in my heart every moment and I could commit to him with joy all of my thoughts and feelings that happened throughout the day. I would visit him for daily morning or evening Mass and spend time in the quiet of the chapel in front of the Blessed Sacrament. I was SO IN LOVE! Yet, even as I continued to do these things (although with less frequency), I had felt a distance and coldness begin to descend within.
How long had I felt estranged? I cannot be sure. I knew that several rough and tumbles of life and strained relationships had cast me into the wilderness.
Then, as I read today’s Gospel passage where Jesus urged his disciples to be compassionate as your Father is compassionate, I realised that while I did not know how I got to this wilderness, God had the antidote to the dry and barren soil of my heart. We are called to water our souls with compassion just as God is compassionate to us. I realised that this compassion is not only to be given to others (although our love does need to be poured out). What I needed was to be compassionate to myself! I needed to honour the dignity of my own self as a person who needs love, care and kindness – from myself – too!
Give, and there will be gifts for you: a full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be poured into your lap; because the amount you measure out is the amount you will be given back. (Luke 6:38)
Notice the words of this hymn, ‘Hosea’. It is a call to repentance that is borne out of a love and longing God has for us. He calls us to return to Him by casting aside our fears (of punishment, self-loathing, guilt, hatred, anger, unforgiveness)…
How often do we remember to be generous in forgiveness for ourselves and our own waywardness? Are we generous in giving ourselves time to truly rest, to freely play, to connect with the family and friends God has given to us in a deeply meaningful way? Or have we been distracted by the lesser, noisier, and shinier things of this world?
Lent is a season for repentance. But it does not stop there. We repent because of love not fear. This Lent, try loving yourself (not in a selfish, prideful way) in all the parts of you within that feel unlovely – your sins, your imperfections, your bad temper, your failings, your insecurities. Believe that you are loved and wanted very much by your Heavenly Father. Because you really are!
(Today’s OXYGEN by Debbie Loo)
Prayer: I seek God’s grace and mercy that I may see all my loveliness and to love my unloveliness, the way God sees me.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Father, for the chance to repent and return to you.