Think of Lent as an old-school librarian. A woman with white hair pulled back into a bun. She wears mostly white lacy blouses pleated skirts, and accessorized only by pearls and pumps. She is careful to coordinate her clothing to the season, especially in regards to fabric and color.
“May I help you?” is her incessant greeting, but it is her firm, “Shhhhh!” for which she is best known. I have never fully grasped why Library’s must be so blasted quiet, but it must have something to do with the need of concentrated attention when reading or conducting research.
Lent is equally focused on silence. Lent requires us to listen to our soul, and notice how far we have drifted from the shore of our hopes and dreams and beliefs. We soon see that our lives have become a blur, and though we do a great deal, we are actually BEING very little -- as if we are more absence than presence. Ironically, we take great pride in our exhaustion, while failing to recognize how our weariness spoils so many special moments - even a relationship or two.
I take short walks these days, as my knees have become a source of significant ache. I love the hill which runs above the North Beach in Racine, my hometown. There are benches every hundred yards or so, and if I get pooped I just plop down for a breather, and witness the varied loveliness of the lake.
I enjoy listening to and for the waves, or the laughter of those children who play in sand or shallow water. I especially love the summer smells of ethnic foods and the heavily accented chatter of families having picnics. These sounds somehow enhance the silence, and offer an atmosphere of relaxed happiness.
On a few mornings I have arrived at the lakefront at dawn. The beach is empty, except maybe for a walker or swimmer or two, occasionally a scampering dog. The rising sun turns the water shades of purple and pink, and then floats aloft like a lovely red balloon. I will sigh, though I have seen the scene many times before, and I will listen to the earth bid me welcome and invite me to have a glorious day.
“Shhhh!” the dawn says, don’t miss this. This is one of a kind. This one was created just for you.
O, Lord of Lent, let us behold and be held in your gracious and generous arms. Let us speak quietly, “Hello silence my old friend, we have come to talk with you again.” We cannot wait to hear the raw joy in your voice; the soft sighs and the trembling oohs and aahs. Amen.
Reverend William R. Grimbol has spent the past 30+ years helping people create and develop strong spiritual connections with loved ones and God. He is also a published author, with over a dozen books to his credit.