One of the notes I wrote down during my Lenten retreat was, “you can get a lot done when you have nothing to do.” Absent the tasks of making family members breakfast, checking emails and messages, and having a long list of tasks to accomplish, I found myself instead doing the daily office, reading and meditating, writing, and exploring the area—all usually by 10:00 AM.
In moments of silence we, like the prophet Elijah, can find God. As the thirteenth century Muslim Sufi mystic, Jala en-Din Rumi said,
“Does anyone write upon a written page?
Does anyone plant in a sapling in a place already planted?
No, one searches for a paper free of writing,
Sows a seed in a place unsown.
Be, O my friend, a place unsown, a white paper
Untouched by the pen.
Return from existence to non-existence.
You are seeking your God and you belong to God.”
It may seem easy, even cavalier to suggest that everyone find free time to be silent, to pray, and to listen to God. We all have lives filled with responsibilities and obligations that demand our time. But part of our Lenten discipline can be not only a sincere and critical examination of our actions, but our calendar as well. Are we using our time wisely, in accordance with our values, goals, and desires? Or is there space to be made, even the smallest amount, where we can sit at our small table in our kitchens, or the chair in the corner of the television room, or a bench in a local park, and be still and breath for just a few minutes? Jesus himself often went to the mountain, or the desert, to pray. But those places don’t need to be in far-off venues, but rather close at hand for us to discover.