By: Rev. Fr. Larry Hansen
A Reflection for Lent
When my mother was about the age that I am now, she had a serious surgery, followed by radiation treatments for a number of weeks. This time provided her an opportunity for deep reflection on her life. Every other week during this time, my brother or I would take our mother to the St. Francis Rectory and wait in the car while she went inside to visit Fr. Pete, our Pastor.
On one occasion, I asked her how her visit went. She said, "You know, Son, I haven't always lived as I should." (Of course, this was a tip-off that she had probably made her long-delayed Confession.) I said, "Mom, you know that all of us have 'fallen short,' so to speak." She replied that she was aware of that, and that she had discussed with him her sense of failure many times in Confession and counseling. However, this time was very different and she wanted to tell me about it.
She had begun to repeat to Father Pete the narratives which he had heard many times previously, so he gently interrupted her and said, "You know, Goldine," the past is like a rock at the bottom of the ocean. You can swim down and hold on to that rock until you drown. Or, you can let go, and let the natural buoyancy that God put in your body and your soul bring you to the surface where you can breathe God's healing air."
When Lent began this year, I resolved to try to learn the lesson that Fr. Pete taught my mother years ago. I prayed for God to give me the courage that I needed to let go of my own rock at the bottom of my own ocean. Frankly, in the past, it was easier--but ultimately frustrating--for me to "work" on myself during Lent; so this year, I decided to stop trying. No, I haven't given myself over to the Dark Side, but I have resolved to embrace the insight that my late Spiritual Director Fr. Timothy shared with me years ago.
On one occasion after I had shared with him my frustrations over my inability to "improve" myself so that I could be a better servant for God, he replied, "Your problem, Lar, is that you think God needs you, but that's backward thinking. When you realize and accept that you need God, you will start to find the peace for which you say you have 'worked' for a long time." As I look toward this third week of Lent, I am resolved to accept the invitation of Jesus:
"Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28).