March 2001There You Will Show Me What My Soul Has Been Seeking.  (St. John of the Cross)

The Deeper Mysteries

Every year at this time, I am fascinated again by the number of people who take Lent seriously. There seems to be something strong in the human spirit that wishes to return to the deeper mysteries of life, given a chance. What really matters? What do I deeply care about?

Recently, I asked a community member what she thought was the heart of Carmel. She responded by saying that she thought the heart of Carmel was to remain close to, and faithful to, one's avowed purpose. This conversation sparked a personal meditation, on my part, as to what my own avowed purpose might be. What is it? Has it changed?

People who have shared on this subject admit to having an intuition, or the nebulous feeling of a call to a certain something without really knowing what it is. The cover of our spring issue of Journey and the Joy carries the question: What is it that is worthy of all I have to give?

Perhaps a meaningful Lenten discipline would be to take ten or fifteen minutes each day and ponder what it is that is worth giving our all, what really matters, and what it is that we care about. The natural follow-up, of course, would be a decision to be faithful to this grace.

Lent also invites us to reflect on the meaning of suffering around us and the suffering that is ours, specifically. Simple faithful prayer often takes us into the pathos of God. To begin with, we know that God does not desire suffering and that God even suffers with us. Then, why is there suffering? The poet, John Donne, says that God batters the heart. But, again, why? Is it that difficult to yield and surrender to love? Even Carmelite Jessica Powers calls God a strange lover and states that the story of God's love is most surprising.

Lent is a kindly time, a gentle time, a song cast in a minor key. But Lent is also a friend. It keeps us from being abandoned as orphans. It tells us secrets hidden in the quiet.

Sister Mary Jo Loebig, O.C.D