Your Eyes Will be Opened: The First Sunday in Lent

Wilderness. Stones. Mountains. The dust of the ground. Serpents and wild animals. These are probably not images we automatically conjure up when we think of the Garden of Eden. They represent just one aspect of the Garden. They are rich images for us to ponder as we enter into our annual Lenten journey. They are relevant images for the mysteries of life.SOurce:

Stones and dust can speak. We may revert to the garden of earthly delights and the tree of life in the Garden, but to be a person of discernment is to allow God to speak through every little thing. Sometimes a stone speaks more clearly than a beautiful song from a bird. Can we have ears to listen? 

I've taken a break from writing for igNation. I felt as if I'd dried up and run out of ideas. Today's dry images from the Genesis reading speak to me. My absence coincided with participation in a time of renewal and searching. That part was planned, but I was open to the elements of surprise. I never planned on dealing with health issues during a sabbatical.

Eight months ago I was a regular participant in ten kilometre races and half marathons. Now I have to make very calculated and careful moves when venturing outside. The wrong weather can change everything! An obstacle in the path can lead to new decisions and/or directions. I've spent most of the sabbatical seeking to return to the old normal. I now recognize that I've been invited to embrace a new normal. 

I was dealing with an unrecognized (at least to me) physical ailment. I was stumbling in the dark. Great Lenten theme! There were days when I wondered if I were going crazy, whether the complaints were entirely in my imagination. I'd wake up in the early morning in a fog and, in all seriousness, ask if I were still alive and sane. Had I been carried away to a strange land?

Source: pinterest.comMy anxiety was obviously working overtime in my sleep. I slowly emerged from my confusion. I knew that I was sane and the right medical diagnostic test gave answer to my search. My complaints were actually based in real issues. Like Adam and Eve, my eyes were opened. Answer came and explained so much, giving new meaning to the earlier confusion. 

I'm no stranger to this medical searching. I think I follow the example of my father. My earlier history includes a brain tumour that had me and others stumped. I went through similar searching. That time I had to search at the time of a public health crisis (SARS). This time the problem was that blood work and other diagnostic tests were so normal. If everything is so normal, is the problem in my mind!

Thus, I was delighted, in a perverse way, when a medical specialist announced the difficult news that there was a real problem. She wondered why I was delighted at receiving bad news. As I knew from the earlier experience, the simple truth is that a measurable problem is more hopeful than a vague sense that something is not quite right.

Your eyes will be opened. When they are opened, we are given glimmers of clarity. We sometimes get just enough clarity that we have what we need to go the next steps. Do we have the data we need to carry us to the Second Sunday in Lent?

We could jump over all the intermediate stages if we received and recognized the entire truth in an instantaneous way. We don't. Lent has several Sundays. Easter and other Resurrection experiences don't always come to us in a one-shot way. Let's be at peace with the long view. We are just beginning Lent.

Philip Shano, SJ has many years of rich and varied experience working with Ignatian spirituality: teaching, writing and using it in his ministry. He resides in the Jesuit community in Pickering, Ontario.

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