As I move through this Lenten season I am trying to listen out for my ancestors. I’m listening and watching for messengers.
In the hustle and bustle of everyday Atlanta, it’s so easy for me to lose my way. Our city is surrounded by I-285, “the perimeter” as it is called by the locals. And the truth is, more often than not the perimeter symbolizes the hurry and the scurry for so many of us in our work-a-day worlds. It’s as though we’re on a merry-go-round that we can’t seem to get off. Round and round we go and where we stop…
And so in these Lenten days, I am trying to be mindful and intentional about making my way to and from places with purpose, with focus, with story. For this season that journeys with us from winter into spring, I am trying to create in me a clean heart that lives from the inside-out.
As I listen for my ancestors, time and again I am brought balance and meaning. Time and again I am brought home again. Lent can symbolize a wandering time, a time when we journey through the wilderness. In these days we can think about what we carry as we make our way through; we can think about what has become burdens for us. During the Lenten season, we can consider and re-consider what changes we would like to make to free up our bodies and our spirits.
That’s where ancestors come in for me. Throughout my life, I have been blessed with companions along the way who have served as guides, teachers, friends. Through our past times together I have witnessed lovingkindness and generosity. They have shown ways to sing new songs in foreign lands. They have done justice, loved kindness and walked humbly. And in these wilderness days, I am watching and listening for them.
So many of these messengers are now in the Great Cloud of Witnesses. I miss them deeply. I miss walking and talking with them. I miss the way he played piano, or she painted on canvas, or they laughed with their eyes. I miss their lessons of faith and hope and love.
But their living gift to me is that when I am mindful of the messages they brought, I am able to pay attention and to listen for the something similar in others. It’s as though, because they have begun those songs of justice and mercy, I can recognize the song when I hear it sung in new ways around me. And in this Lenten season this year, I am yearning to hear another verse of those old faithful songs.
We’re not alone as we make our way. Companions share the journey. Step-by-step, story-by-story we are reminded that our Creator is always, always in the midst of it all. In the silence and in the singing, God is with us inviting to listen and to watch; inviting us to be surprised by what is and what is yet to be.
Working in Family Experience at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Lesley is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. A Candler School of Theology graduate, Lesley has just published her second book, Grief and the Psalms: Companioning the Moon for 29 Days (available on this website). She and her partner, Linda Ellis are raising their two sons, Brogan and Sam in Decatur, GA.