This was the first post I published a year ago when I started my Blog as Reflections during Lent. The message is still pertinent today, this Lent. Hope you enjoy it.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank you for opening our hearts to bring us to a place for reflection. Bless our time together and inflame our longing for you. Amen.
Reflection:In my 20’s I was a keen hill walker. For my summer holiday I often chose a walking holiday. I went out in all weathers. On one forgettable occasion, it poured incessantly all day long, and we were drenched after the first five minutes of setting out. Because of the wet terrain, my walking boots had quickly filled with water. I hardly stopped to rest, because when we did the water in the boots became cold. Luxury was having warm water in my boots. My longing that day was for the Youth Hostel at the other end of the trudge, a warm bath and dry clothes.
Many longings we experience are physical, yet may be deeper and more profound than my longing on that wet day. A longing at its most intense can be unbearable; at other times it is a moment of wistfulness; a dull ache; or an inner restlessness that we can’t quite understand or satisfy.
What do each of us yearn for today? Longings can depend on our circumstances. A childless couple may long for family life; whereas worn out parents may long for rest and space for themselves. A person in the monotonous routine of unemployment may long for a fulfilling career; whereas another person may long for a break from the monotonous routine of an unfulfilling job. When single we may long for a partner or companion through life; a person married for many years may have lost that companion through illness or dementia and may long for that person to be whole again. Sometimes a longing is satisfied; at other times, not or not yet; and not in the way we might expect. Is it possible that a longing comes from God and can be a powerful motivating force? Think of Alfonso Cuaron who dreamt of being an astronaut. Instead he visited space in his imagination and has just won the Oscar for Best Director for his film Gravity.
St Augustine came to faith late in life. In his “Confessions” he writes:
“Late have I loved you, Beauty so ancient and so new,
Late have I loved you! “
“You called, shouted, broke through my deafness;
You flared, blazed, banished my blindness;
You lavished your fragrance, I gasped, and now I pant for you;
I tasted you, and I hunger and thirst;
You touched me, and I burned for your peace”
St Augustine was writing a love song to God. His passion and longing is overpowering and as Janet Morley puts it “violently sensual”. Even after his initial awareness of God, it is further inflamed. There is nothing calm or controlled about his intense desire. Read Song of Songs or many of the psalms and you will spot similar examples in the Bible.
Do we ever consider how this longing may echo the way in which God yearns and desires each one of us?
Prayer and Blessing
(From Benedictus: A Book of Blessings by John O’Donohue)
Blessed be the longing that brought you here
And quickens your soul with wonder.
May you have the courage to listen to the voice of desire
That disturbs you when you have settled for something safe.
May you have the wisdom to enter generously into your own unease
To discover the new direction your longing wants you to take.
May the forms of your belonging-in love, creativity and friendship
Be equal to the grandeur and the call of your soul.
May the one you long for long for you.
May a secret Providence guide your thought and nurture your feeling.
May your heart never be haunted by ghost structures of old damage.
May your mind inhabit your life with the sureness with which your body inhabits the world.
May your dreams gradually reveal the destination of your desire
May you come to accept your longing as divine urgency.
May you know the urgency with which God longs for you.