i was out with luke in our latest snowstorm, trying to capture the delight on the faces of three friends flying, as it were, down the kiddie hill at the park when i heard the hawk circling overhead. there were two of them, actually, and if you know that forest-clearing shriek, you'll know well how i knew they were there without even looking. they weren't going anywhere, circling circling, so i took a few pictures.
it was when i came home and sat down to edit those pictures that the thought of lent struck me.
lent is about waiting. it is about preparation and patience, both denial and anticipation of fulfillment.
clearly, that hawk was not practicing self-denial; he was looking for a meal. but the image is a powerful one: as he circled, doing nothing, he waited. he was no doubt hungry, and most likely the best and only thing he could think about (bird-brain that he is) was having that need met. but there was nothing that he could do but ride the wind and watch and wait. no amount of wing-flapping or forest-scurrying was going to bring that mouse or vole or sparrow any faster. he watched and waited.
during lent, we wait. if we've got our eyes fixed on the best, we know that what we wait for, what we long for is easter. the emptiness we feel, be it from giving up a meal or a favorite activity or an indulgence of some sort, is meant to remind us of our need to be filled. the superficial filling would be good--that chocolate bar would really hit the spot!--but that's not the emptiness we're meant to long to eradicate. "the glory of these forty days," as the hymn proclaims, is that Christ Himself has fasted and prayed and waited; we are invited into that fasting with Him. we are invited to suffer and and to long for more than what is good, chocolate or otherwise, to long for what is Great.
my prayer, then, is that i may be a bird-brain in this season of waiting, focused only on what is Great, on the only thing that is needful, both content and uncomfortable to wait with patience and single-minded focus on the promise that is mine always and not yet.
Then grant that we like them be true,
Consumed in fast and prayer with You;
Our spirits strengthen with Your grace,
And give us joy to see Your face.