As the winter drags on (even along with the signs that point out 13 days until spring!), we find ourselves in the midst of yet another snowstorm. It was 40 degrees when I went to sleep late last night. This morning it is snowing to beat the bandit! The whirlwind of changing weather is nothing new this winter. The ups and downs in temperature and weather have created some interesting weather days (and in some cases hours). A few weeks ago, the day became very foggy. As the afternoon progressed, the fog deepened. The interesting part of the fog was that it was backward from normal. The warmer weather was up and the cold ground was causing the fog to be deeper close to the ground. We managed to make it home (as we prayed the Rosary and listened to Christian music to help us calm ourselves) and I called my husband to tell him not to try to come home from work that evening as the visibility had gone to zero. I asked him to go to my parents’ house as it is a little closer to his office. He took my warning and headed in that direction. As he did, he said he drove through snow into a thunderstorm into fog and finally into more rain. All in the span of about ten miles! He did come home because by the time he got to the rain, the fog was gone. As I reflect on that afternoon and evening, I am continually drawn back to how out of control the situation was to us. Even though I tried to control his safety, I had no idea that the fog would lift so soon and that my request to him actually sent him through more dangerous weather than if he had just come home!
St. Paul tells us, “for we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). St. Paul wasn’t just referring to the foggy drives that may happen in our life. In every aspect of our life, we make decisions based on faith. As believers and followers of Jesus, we try to make sure our decisions are based on the teaching of our Catholic faith. Even non believers must make faith-based decisions, although they may balk at the terminology used there. Life is uncertain. Not a single person this side of heaven can tell you how it will turn out.
How do we cope with this uncertainty and the blindness that comes from the uncertainty? By faith. Jesus tells us in Luke 21:18-19, “But not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”
During this season of Lent, we are called to reflection through fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. How can we grow closer to our Lord Jesus? How will we cope better with each day? Perhaps instead of opening our eyes, we need to close our eyes. We need to stop and put prayer at the top of our to-do list each day. In our all-school masses, our pastor walks out among the children after the opening prayer. He asks them, “What must we do next?” The answer is, “Stop.” His next question is, “Who must stop?” The children quickly raise their hands to point out that he needs to stop, the teachers, the students, the “old people in the back” (that would be us parents!). He is teaching them that everyone needs to stop, ask forgiveness, and deepen their commitment to prayer before our Lord.
Driving home on that foggy afternoon, I could only see a few feet in front of me. I’ve driven that stretch of road more times than I could possibly remember over the course of my life and often joke that I could do it with my eyes closed. The fog forced me to see what that would actually be like. I could see the road and nothing around me. The gas stations and houses and fields faded to a sea of white and blended together. We were alone in our van. During Lent, I want to close my eyes to the calls of the world that are unnecessary to the work God is calling me to do in this season of my life. Seeing only what is deemed necessary by God will help me to grow closer to Him.
I know the days are full. I race each day to see how much I can take off my to-do list before sitting down exhausted at the end of the day. However, the days when I take the time to stop and close my eyes to the world, even for a few minutes (and sometimes before I have even opened them for the day in the first place) and ask for God’s Grace and Presence in my day are the ones that at the end of the day, I can say I feel peace. It is the peace of God’s Presence in my heart. Many times it does not translate to what I see when my eyes are open (yes, that basket of toys still needs to be put away; yes, the clothes still need to be sorted.) However, my heart is at peace. I am letting the Lord lead me by faith and am persevering to my ultimate goal – that of eternal life with Him for myself and my family.
Lord, before I go into this day, please guide me. Help me to feel Your Presence throughout my day. Your Will, not mine, be done today, Lord. Help me to close my eyes and walk close with You through faith and perseverance today. I ask this through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.