Sweeping Away the Dust

Written and Voiced by the Reverend Canon D Littlepage, Canon for Advocacy, Racial Justice, and Reconciliation

As I sat in the Chapel at The Commons for Eucharist on Ash Wednesday, I found myself really enjoying the feel of the sun on my face as it shone through the window. At some point, my mind wandered to a few weekends ago when we had the first sunny day in what felt like a very long time. That day, just about everyone I encountered remarked on how amazing it was to see and feel the sunshine. There are seasons in our lives in which God’s presence is as radiantly obvious as sunshine after a spell of grayness. There are other seasons however, when God’s presence is much harder to perceive.

Sometimes we are very aware that we feel distant from God and cry out with the psalmist, “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” (Psalm 13). Other times, we might not even notice that we haven’t noticed God in a while. In his meditation “Moments of High Resolve” Howard Thurman describes the impact of the “dust and grit of the journey[i]”on our ability to stay connected to that which matters most to us. If I dared to guess, I would guess that most of us tend to experience the interference of the dustiness and grittiness of life more frequently than we experience the acute awareness of how far away we feel from God.

The season of Lent is an opportune time for us to notice those places where the accumulation of dust and grit is making it hard for us to even notice that we haven’t noticed God. I’ve found that noticing the dust and inviting God to sweep it away makes it more likely that I’ll notice God in the nooks and crannies of my life. And conversely, the more that I notice God in the nooks and crannies of life, the more I notice that the dust and grit isn’t taking up quite so much space. For me, this is truly the gift of Lenten disciplines. Whether one is giving up something or taking on something, Lenten disciplines invite our intention to pay attention to what we eat, what we drink, how we spend our time, how we spend our money, or any other number of ordinary elements of our lives. Thanks be to God that it is through noticing the ordinary that we open ourselves to more fully notice that God’s holy presence is always near.

[i] Howard Thurman, Meditations of the Heart (Boston: Beacon Press, 1999), 209-210.

Translated Text – Texto Traducido – Tèks Tradui

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