Have you heard of Laetare Sunday? Until recently, I had not. It turns out to be the Sunday halfway through Lent, when devout Christians were historically given a break from their austere Lenten disciplines. Laetare means “rejoice” in Latin and refers to the opening words of the Introit which was assigned to this Sunday:
“Rejoice, O Jerusalem: and come together all you that love her: rejoice with joy, you that have been in sorrow: that you may exult and be filled from the breasts of your consolation.”
Today is Laetare Sunday this year. We are halfway through Lent. I could spout all sorts of pious words about what this means—but this year I find myself facing the stark truth that I have managed very little observance of Lent at all. Between family visits, traveling, and an increase in my workload, I have not had much success in honoring my chosen Lenten discipline (ironically, of simply resting in God’s presence!).
Naturally, I can blame my busyness, but the real issue is my choices. I could get up early when family is visiting and sit in silence before they wake. I could take breaks from work and sit in silence with God. I could end my day with stillness before heading off to bed.
The larger problem is, I believe, upon reflection, a return to the notion of scarcity. I have experienced periods in my life when I believed there could never be time enough for all that I had to do. When life gets full, I return to that perspective—usually subconsciously, experience feelings of panic and overwhelm, and need something to bring this shift in perspective to my attention.
This time, that shift started during a visit with my spiritual director this past week, as I poured out my concerns about my busy life. We talked about Psalm 42, which speaks of the soul’s longing for God. God doesn’t long for me to accomplish six heavy-duty things before dinner. God desires me to desire back, to open myself to the flow of love which accomplishes all that is really necessary.
Yes, the work is still there. The commitments still need to be honored. If I take the long view, I can become overwhelmed again. If I live in this moment, this hour, I can do what needs doing in this hour and trust that the broader picture will take care of itself. I may have to make some choices that involve letting go of things I’d like to do—but when I embrace my longing for God, and act upon it, that inner stillness fosters healthier choices and an acceptance that my life is still filled with an abundance—of both time and opportunities. Then I can rejoice (laetare!) in all that is possible, rather than focusing on what is not.
Yesterday I made time to attend the Tucson Festival of Books. I was able to meet in person (for the first time) with an editing client whose book has now been published, attend a writers’ workshop and a presentation on creativity, and spend time wandering among the festival tents, seeing what’s happening and engaging in conversation with book lovers. I returned home both exhausted and quietly energized—as if the abundant busyness of that day had actually rejuvenated my soul—a shift in perspective indeed….
Where does scarcity show up in your life? How might you turn your scarcity struggles into abundant rejoicing?
When is the last time you just rested in God’s presence? Could you do it today?