2nd Sunday of Lent

2nd Sunday of Lent

What a busy week it has been! We spent Friday with my parents and drove up to Mille Lac, which is north of the Twin Cities about 100 miles. We went in search of the albino deer that live in Father Hennepin State Park. (See photo posted)  We didn't see them while driving through the park but then went in search of a geocache and Bill and I actually saw 5-6 of them with the rest of the herd. It was pretty spectacular. The deer are very unusual and to see them was a thrill! We also saw sand hill cranes on the way up and a coyote running across Mille Lac on the way home. It was a lovely day to be out and to spend the day with Bill and my parents.

My Lenten goal was to spend thirty minutes a day in quiet time. I am glad perfection isn’t required because there are days it has worked and others where it has remained only a goal! I have read my daily books and maintained the Liturgy of Hours reading of the Office and morning prayer, as well as the daily Mass readings but it can be very challenging for me to set the time aside for the silence, especially when my husband is home. I will keep trying…

I love the readings for Mass today, especially the gospel reading of the transfiguration of Jesus. I read the Magnificat (a monthly publication with morning and evening prayer, the daily Mass readings and a short meditation reading) and I like the meditation today written by Pope Benedict XVI. It comes from his book, “Jesus of Nazareth”.

The meditation is called “Graces of the Transfiguration” and reads, “Once again, the mountain serves—as it did in the Sermon on the Mount and in the nights spent by Jesus in prayer—as the focus of God’s particular closeness…The mountain is the place of ascent—not only outward, but also inward ascent; it is a liberation from the burden of everyday life, a breathing in of the pure air of creation; it offers a view of the broad expanse of creation and its beauty; it gives one an inner peak to stand on an intuitive sense of the Creator...” There are several more paragraphs but I really like the metaphor of the mountain as the place of ascent.

Yesterday, Bill and I were geocaching in River Ralls, Wisconsin, climbing up this never-ending path, to try to reach our 800th geocache. While we were making the ascent—our boots and pant legs completely soaked from a day of trekking through snow and puddles, I happened to slip (not surprising because the path was super slick) and while I was pulling myself up, I noticed a moving shadow on the ground. I looked up to see a beautiful red-tailed hawk soaring above. I yelled to Bill to look up and we watched in silence for a few minutes as this hawk gracefully rode the thermals and soared over this “mountain”. I don’t know if I would have seen his shadow if I had not slipped and slowed down enough to notice the movement. We were focused on reaching this last cache so we could finish the day and in our haste, almost missed the beautiful hawk.

How often do I miss the things happening around me because I am so intent on “climbing the mountain” or reaching the milestone of the moment? A simple slip caused me to slow down and look up. I love red-tailed hawks and actually have one tattooed on my right shoulder (much to my husbands dismay!) J. I often spot them on the road or see them soaring.

About five years ago, after a particularly difficult night on call at the hospital as a chaplain intern, I was pacing in my Minneapolis city backyard at 8 am, talking to a friend and sobbing. I had spent the night with a young woman who had just died of ovarian cancer. I was really have a tough time dealing with all the emotions, both my own and watching her family—parents, husband and also the medical staff, suffer through this grueling death. I was telling my friend that I just didn’t understand why this stuff happens—when all of the sudden, a huge red-tailed hawk flew into my backyard and landed on the fence post, turned and just looked at me. I said to my friend, “Oh my God, there is a hawk in my city backyard—just looking at me.” I watched this hawk and felt it was a sign—some kind of comforting sign to me that all would be okay. We just don’t see too many hawks landing in the heart of a city yard, hanging out on a fence post with a sobbing semi-hysterical person pacing back and forth.

It was another reminder to stop, and like yesterday, just take a breath. As Pope Benedict XVI writes, “it is a liberation from the burden of everyday life, a breathing in of the pure air of creation; it offers a view of the broad expanse of creation and its beauty; it gives one an inner peak to stand on an intuitive sense of the Creator...”.

May this week provide opportunities for us all to stop and pay attention to our own inner ascent and breath in the pure air of creation.

Blissfully, Susan

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def. Bliss: -noun Supreme Happiness, Utter Joy/Contentment; the Joy of Paradise!