Where has the time gone, it seems with all the snow and severe winter weather we have been experiencing that it was just yesterday that Christmas and New Years were here. The winter has been so severe that the Christmas lights are still snow and ice bound in the bushes outside. It hardly seems possible that Lent begins tomorrow a day for ashes and fasting.
With the coming of Lent we tend to re-evaluate where we are. We ask ourselves the usual questions about giving things up or doing something to change our life in a positive way. What will help make me a better version of myself? Often these things we try to do for Lent can be like the resolutions we make for New Year’s: I will do this, go on a diet, stop smoking or giving up chocolate. We can set ourselves up for failing to keep at it because we think about doing things instead of having a goal. Having a goal can set us up for success during Lent.
Consider that we all need goals as we go through life. Without them we are simply going to drift. I don’t know if any of you have ever sailed but think of goals as a centerboard. Without the centerboard, there is no way to control the boat. It is the same way with goals. Goals keep us focused. When we are running the race, our eyes are on the finish. When we identify the goal we can then see what we have to do to achieve it. The focus of Lent should be on Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving. These are things that will help us on our journey to be the best person we can be. Having a goal will help us. As a married couple we want to be the best couple we can be. We ask ourselves; what do we need to do, for the sake of our relationship, to grow closer to each other and to God.
Consider also that if we have to change something to accomplish our goals we can only change ourselves, not our spouse. Remember we are only responsible for our own attitudes and behaviors and if we need to change that is our responsibility. If we are reevaluating for the sake of our relationship any “me” centered attitudes or behaviors need to change to those focused on us and our relationship. It is not an easy task to be the best couple we can be. Trying to live up to the desire God has for our marriage; two people passionately in love, living intimately and responsibly is not easy. We can find ourselves easily falling back into old attitudes. “I am too tired”, or “there is no time”; “I am too busy” keep us from drawing closer to each other. Each of us have to have a willingness to change; to make choices each day to be more focused on our relationship and to make decision to love that will keep our intimacy alive.
This year, my wife and I have decided to set a goal together this year to improve one aspect of our relationship and that is to deepen our couple prayer. Many think prayer is a personal thing, but in the relationship of a husband and wife it is a truly great experience to grow together. We acknowledge that God is definitely a part of our life so we want to deepen our awareness of what he is saying to us.
Starting tomorrow, we are taking our daily dialogue and are going to incorporate it with a deeper level of prayer. Before answering our question we are going to start off by praying Evening Prayer from Give Us This Day. Evening prayer begins with the praying of a Psalm followed by a scripture passage, meditation, the Magnificat, intentions and the Lord ’s Prayer. When we come to the scripture passage we are going to use the Lectio Divina method to trigger our dialogue.
Briefly, the Lectio Divina is a method of prayer in which you read a scripture passage. Reading it slowly at least once for the head and once for the heart, savoring it and listen to that small voice that says this is for you today. Then after reading the passage, ponder it. Take a word or two that struck you, repeat them, and let yourself interact with them. Don’t worry about distractions like memories or thoughts as they are a part of you. Then pray. Give to God what you have discovered. The only goal in this is to be in the presence of God.
It is after this we will write our love letters. The question will always be: What is God saying to me/us in this scripture passage, and how do I feel about that? These scripture passages from evening prayer are usually short. It is going to take a little extra time but that is what this is all about. Once our dialogue is over we will finish the evening prayer.
This is going to be an interesting journey.