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images-9My heart was caught with these words in my preparation for Lent by Fr. Ronald Rolheiser in his introduction to the season in God For Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Lent and Easter. He says:

It is a time to slowly prepare our souls. It is a time to open ourselves to the presence of God in our lives and let the angels feed us. (xiv).

Open…opening…opened. It has been a spiritual work of mine for years to set boundaries, boundaries determined by humility and call, boundaries set by faithfulness and responsibility, boundaries shaped by training and experience. So this Word comes to me as a surprise this season, yet it comes with force and resonance. I have a visceral response to it, as I notice the places that my muscles are taut and inelastic. I have an emotional response to it–one of anxiety about my vulnerability. I have a rational response to it, I who was given drink at the well of “good fences make good neighbors.” But I know there is an invitation for me here in this Lenten season.

I came late in my spiritual journey to Lenten practices; they were not part of the tradition of my imprinting. Yet, I have found them very helpful in focusing my musings and actions for well over 30 years now. However, the word OPEN is asking me to leave the practices in my life alone this year, let them stay as they are, but also pray into a less empirical, more organic practice of daily opening myself to the Presence of the Holy, without analyzing a list of what i have accomplished or not, and to pay attention to the places where the angels are feeding me.

In these first few days I am fumbling with his practice-that-is-not-a-practice, but I am noticing a few things already. I remember a song taught to me by a Roman Catholic sister, committed to social justice: Open my eyes, Lord, that I may see your face; Open my ears, Lord, that I may hear your voice. Open my heart, Lord, that I might love like you. Then, into what feels like a more ample space, I am able to notice without judging, the myriad ways that I experience the Holy One in me, for me, with me.

  • some sheer joy at the way the Spirit is healing and moving in someone else
  • some noticings of things unobserved before: a Bach oboe solo, a gathering of small yellow birds in front of my house, a delicious hamburger made by my son-in-law
  • some freedom after healing when I am called to greet the ghosts of days past
  • some new fascinations when I see how Word and art meet, in the museum or in my reading and conversation
  • some healthy awareness that I still need vigilance in the areas of envy, fear and acedia

My teacher and friend, Jan Richardson, tells me this week that:

In the wilderness, there are angels.

I have been fed by them: in a phone call, in an e-mail, in an unexpected smile, in a fresh brewed cup of coffee, in the writing of Ronald Rolheiser, in the synchronicity of my reading and doing, and in so many other places. In my openness I can see so many places where angels love to be in my life (Thank you, Jan!). So the call remains this year to be open–without a laundry list, anything that I can check off, and to notice when and where the Holy One and the angels show up.

I had just remembered this quotation form Anais Nin yesterday, when it was posted by a new Facebook friend, another slice of Angelfood:

Yes, that is my Lenten invitation–to risk blossoming! Open my heart, O Holy One! I am ready for the angels to feed me!