Small Surrenders

This year for my Lenten journey I am once again reading Emilie Griffin’s book Small Surrenders. For those of you unfamiliar with her, she is a brilliant writer on the subject of spiritual practices and formation in the Roman Catholic tradition. This book came out last year and I read through it and it was life-changing, so I read it again. To encourage you, dear readers, to pick up this little gem, here is an excerpt from the Thursday after Ash Wednesday entry. Please to enjoy.

“The second day begins to teach us that Lent is a sustained experience: a true commitment to discipline. Let’s go back to teh question of Jesus in the desert. A one-day fast seems simple enough. But keeping a fast for 40 days? It’s like keeping a promise for forty days. A fast of many days can seem like a lifetime.

“Still, there’s a great beauty in these forty days, since we are walking toward the light. Over this sustained Lenten time the seasons will turn. Those who live in the Northern Hemisphere will move into springtime and resurrection; those who live in the Southern Hemisphere will move into autumn – and resurrection. But first we must embrace the trials and sufferings of Jesus. That is our way into the light.

“How do we embrace these trials and sufferings? One good spiritual pracitce is to reflect on the weight of our own life choices, the constraints of living that hem us in. Possibly instead of taking on burdens for Lent, we can be transformed by the burdens we already carry.

“One of these (for some of us) is the everydayness of things. There are chores to e done errands to perform, phone calls to return. Karl Rahner, discouraged by the daily slog, referred to his soul as a warehouse where burdens were dumped every day. Life was a hard journey of duties and obligations. This warehouse of accumulating duties was a kind of desert for him a wilderness where he got lost andsearched for the Lord. There’s an irony here. Karl Rahner’s relentless life of scholarship and study was entirely dedicated to the Lord’s service. Yet sometimes he was overwhelmed. He lost sight of Jesus in the ‘warehouse’ of his soul.

“In our most romantic moments of conversion we wish we could drop everything to be with Jesus, to sit at his feet, to soak up his presence. But we too, are hemmed in by everydayness. We are tied to our work, our obligations. Jesus must come to us where we are.”

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