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Lenten reflection – God alone is enough

By Rev Heather den Houting, General Secretary – Queensland Synod, Uniting Church in Australia

At this time of Lent, three insistent themes have been emerging in my prayer and spiritual life. The first is Ecclesiastes 3:14, the second is the notion of Pilgrim people as articulated in the UCA’s Basis of Union and the third is Teresa of Avila’s prayer Nada te turbe (the serenity prayer). As is my way, I am holding these themes lightly and allowing God to integrate them into my way of being. However, I’ve been asked to reflect on what I see in these three things at this time and the main theme that emerges is how God holds us, rather than us holding on to God.

The Ecclesiastes reading comes after the well-known “to everything there is a season” passage. The beautiful poetry of these verses then morphs into the classical trope of Wisdom literature. In, of and through and beyond us all is the Creator God, the one whom we can only know (as creations/creatures of God) through the graciousness of Godself. To know this graciousness of being held by the Creator requires us to move away from distraction and our captivity to activity and knowledge into the places of stillness and deep knowing of our own skin. There is time for this – there must always be time for this.

“We are a Pilgrim people, always on the way to a promised goal” is a phrase that calls us back into the humility of understanding that we are, as all of creation, a transient part of the story. So I resist calls to build ‘centres of excellence’, or to be a ‘kingdom builder’, or to invest ultimate meaning in a building or a set of regulations as a goal in themselves. Instead, I pray to encounter each of these things with my most open heart, knowing that the foundation of our being is to seek God in that which is around us, before us, beside us and behind us. Sometimes, we are called to be excellent builders, but only in order to respond to the call of God on us at any time. We must hold lightly to that which we have built. This is why reviewing our life together as a church is imperative for every generation. To ask whether our skin still fits us in God’s created order. To always be a Pilgrim people. To always question whether we are being faithful to our call to discipleship. With this view, we know that all things can fall away from us, but God is still faithful.

Finally, I am attempting to learn Teresa of Avila’s prayer in the original Spanish in preparation for walking O Camino dos Faros in August this year. I intend to use the Nada te turbe as a reflective walking prayer. It’s repetitive and in Spanish is quite assonant. Such practices help still my mind and I have found walking to a rhythmic prayer deeply powerful. It allows my body to maintain a space in the world that is not usually available to me. In this way, I calm my ‘problem-solving, solutions-oriented, all cylinders firing’ brain and instead let the deep spiritual wisdom of the ages guide the shape that I am in. There is usually no grand revelation, hyper response or adrenaline-fuelled flash of brilliance when I do this. Instead, I find myself held in the loving gracious arms of God, in a world in which I am merely part of creation. The holy journey.

Nada te turbe, nada te espante, todo se pasa; Dios no se muda. La paciencia todo lo alcanza; quien a Dios tiene, nada la falta; solo Dios basta.

Let nothing disturb you, nothing frighten you, everything is passing; God does not change. Those with patience will find all things; those who God has will lack nothing; God alone is enough

My prayer is that this time of lent, you might catch a glimpse of how God has you.


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