By Anne Ciccoline, Parishioner and Aspirant at Four Winds Anglican Mission, Columbia, TN
My life is busy, with many, many things always clamoring for my attention. Many roles and responsibilities place demands on my time and energy. Many voices require listening and response. As I’ve sought to enter into the season of Lent, observing the traditions of self-examination and repentance—by prayer, fasting and self-denial, and by reading and meditating on God’s Holy Word—I’ve found that the noise in my own head and heart gets in the way.
The rhythms of the daily office and lectionary readings invite me in to be present and journey through the seasons. During Lent I yearn for even more space to allow each moment, each word to penetrate my soul. It is always a battle to be still, to listen, to engage. We all face this struggle, but I think we each have a place or practice that stills our soul, lets us be. For me, even as a young child I have always experienced a deep connection with Jesus in the act of creating. In those moments of sitting before the blank canvas, brush in hand, I wait. I am still. I am quiet. I long to receive what Jesus has for me in the moment, and in that moment the noise of the world recedes. I am fully present and He is there.
As I meditated on the words from our Ash Wednesday liturgy, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return. Turn away from sin and be faithful to Christ,” I felt a deep conviction of sin that led me to take symbols of my sin, weave them together with dried palm branches and wire into a cross and place it on a canvas painted with ash, a visual representation of my sin that Christ bore on the cross. A sign of repentance. As I prepared for Palm Sunday last year I meditated on this passage in Mark:
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
Hosanna in the highest heaven! (Mark 11:9-10 NRSV)
Joy at the coming of the Savior burst out of me. It was expressed in an explosion of bright color, royal purple and gold. I was full of love, adoration and praise for my King and a yearning for his return.
In Walking on Water Madeldeine L’engle says, “When I am constantly running there is not time for being. When there is not time for being there is not time for listening. So as we continue through our Lenten journey I ask, “Where is that place that you can be still, escape the noise of this world and be fully present in the moment? It may be in the quiet of the morning, seeking the Father in prayer and mediation on Scripture. It may be pausing in nature, where your spirit delights in the beauty of creation and praise for the creator. For some it is sitting quietly in the crush of people on the subway, feeling their shared humanity and need for Jesus. Wherever it is, Jesus is there, inviting you in, meeting you in the moment.
Anne Ciccoline is an ordinand to the diaconate at Four Winds Anglican Church. She’s also a wife, mother, grandmother, servant and friend, delighting in following Jesus in the Anglican way.