O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy: Be gracious to all who have gone astray from your ways, and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of your Word, Jesus Christ your Son; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. —Collect for the Second Sunday in Lent
There was a fairly regular struggle in my life growing up around practicing the piano. I enjoyed being able to play and was pretty good. But I honestly didn’t like the discipline of daily practice. In reality, you make a lot more progress by practicing a little each day, rather than trying to cram it all in the day before your lesson (hypothetically, of course). You just can’t cram your fingers into knowing where to go at the last minute. And it’s not going to be a productive lesson if you’re still trying to grasp each note on the page as you play. To really begin to play with expression and musicality, you must be able to play without really paying attention to the notes.
Spiritual disciplines are the same way. I feel much more grounded when I attend to my prayer practices each day. Doing a marathon catch-up after days away is not likely to accomplish the same thing. I have found, however, that taking time away for a retreat can refill my tank in a profound way that then supports my daily practices.
Lent is a wonderful season allowing us to take stock and reflect about where we are on our journey with God. It is a time to pause and look at what practices have been helpful and where perhaps we need a tweak. This Saturday we are co-sponsoring a Lenten retreat at St. Luke’s from 9 am to 2 pm. The Very Reverend Kate Moorhead Carroll will be presenting from her new book about how to maintain vital spiritual practices. Then she will join us as our guest preacher on Sunday at 9 and 11:15. If you are looking for a time to set aside a few hours to take stock of your spiritual practices, I hope you’ll join us. You can register until tomorrow.
If you can’t come, I invite you to ask yourself where you are in your spiritual life. Do you feel grounded or adrift? Are there things you have done in the past that help connect you more deeply to God? Are there things you are doing now that you need to let go of? Have you stepped away from a discipline long enough that you need to restart all together? Wherever you find yourself, this season of intentionality is God inviting you to join God on the piano bench for a lesson. A little each day will go a long way towards grounding you in love and mercy.