A Lenten Sign (literally) By Kris Rooney

I’m taking classes in Albany, which means I take I-90 twice a week.  If you’ve driven on the highway recently, you will notice a sign that says:

stayawakestayalive

 

I didn’t think much of it at first.  It did remind me of The Last of the Mohicans:

But the more I saw it, the more I thought about it.  This is like Lent:  Stay awake, stay alive.

     I haven’t been very motivated this Lent.  I think I might be a Lenten fail.  Sure, I’m going to Mass, abstaining on Fridays and I even went to a Penance Service.  But life has been busy and chaotic, as I’m sure you probably relate.  Life is on a day-to-day basis, getting things done.  Check.  Most of my prayers have had a “Help me!” theme.  I tried to give up worrying for Lent but gave up.  Now I’m worrying about worrying.  Not exactly what God had in mind, I think.  So I ask myself:  What is Lent supposed to be like for me this year?  Cuz so far, this ain’t it.

     The Jesuit in me thinks this sign might have something to do with it.  Stay awake.  Stay awake to God.  All God wants is to be close to me, to all of us.  God reaches out to us many times throughout the day, whether we notice or not.  We are never absent from God, unless we turn away from God ourselves.  I can’t seem to find the author, but I have a prayer I say often that goes, ” My beloved and generous God, I repent of all my sins of blindness to your daily thousand-and-one visits and all the countless gifts you send my way.”  Stay awake to the hope, love and surprises God has in store.  This can only be good.  Pay attention (and I’m mainly talking to me but cool beans if it helps you too) to the blessedness in life.  It’s there.

     And it’s life-giving.  Stay alive to it.  I get caught up in the check lists and getting things done, but there is beauty in the lost moments.  Even concentrating too much on the chatter in my head closes me off to the reality of God revealing Godself in the day.  Stay alive to the possibility that God might show up.  Whether I like it or not, God just may know better than I do.  Life is not supposed to be a game we have already figured out on our own; it’s just meant to be played.  Stay alive to the idea that God is ever present.  It’s why Jesus came to live with us.  He died so we could stay alive to what God has in store for us:  life in abundance!

     Or maybe I’m just not supposed to be falling asleep at the wheel.  But I think I’m going with this instead.  Dear Lord, Help me, and all of us, stay awake and alive to your presence with us as we walk our Lenten journeys.  Amen

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3 responses

  1. Possibly the most beautiful portrait of a wife, mother, homemaker, worker, student and heaven knows how many other hats you wear. My first comment is look into your rearview mirror because one of these categories will soon be behind you. Then a new category will arise, graduate.
    Student will become a pleasant memory and not so much a daily worry. Possibly then it would be appropriate to give up worrying in more of a post-graduate way. Your gasoline bills may decrease, your free-time may increase, the kids will be home for summer and you can concentrate more on toothpaste caps.
    So, your daily routines will surely change. If I understand your turmoil, then so will your prayers and time for worship? Possibly you will not see that I-90 road sign again for a while and certainly not as often.
    But the way you interpreted that road sign shows your Lent is far from a fail. Stress induces us to judge ourselves instead of leaving that for Him.
    The fact you can share these thoughts so elegantly enforces that your diploma will unlock unknown spiritual plateaus that will more than cover this Lenten period.
    God certainly knows what you have undertaken.
    The fact you see God in a road sign means you are closer than you may feel.
    Objects in your mirror may be closer than they appear.

  2. How thoughtful, Vito…thank you!

  3. Kris, I’ve been looking at and thinking of that sign too! So fun to see you reflecting on it. LOVED what Vito wrote, quite the essayist! As are you. Thanks for the honesty that comes through in all your posts, be they from the student/mother/lenten-learner or adult faith formation leader. This really made me smile and gave me food for thought.

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