Lenten Devotional – April 2, 2023

Sunday, April 2, 2023
I guess I haven’t learned that yet
by Shauna Niequist, Author
Devotional by Pastor Carrie Baylis
I chose this book largely because I identify with the writing of Shauna Niequist and believe that others might, too.  This is the newest book that she has written, and it comes after she experienced lots of life changes, many of which weren’t expected or particularly welcome. The book is written more as a collection of short essays that speak to the different ways Shauna has learned to navigate the unexpected, losses, grief, new relationships and communities, and how to nurture herself in a world that keeps moving around us and challenging us. She shows us that the ways we experience life and all it offers are different and how we find rest and refreshment within that are also different.  I hope this Lenten journey opens up for you the space to say, “I guess I haven’t learned that yet…” and then to explore the possibilities of what time with God and for God looks like in your life.

Seeking beauty as an act of prayer. Reveling in it. Take a few deep breaths somewhere beautiful. Many years ago, when I was leaving our Good Friday Tenebrae service, I looked towards the mountains and they were glowing the most beautiful, deepest shade of cobalt blue I had ever seen, with just a faint glow or outline of the mountain showing as the sun further disappeared in the west.  I remember that Holy Week as being pretty frantic up until that point, which is often the case for pastors.  I called up a pastor friend I had been talking with earlier in the day and shared with him this delight that I had caught on my way out.  When I had spoken with him earlier, I had mentioned that quiet and contemplative was not my gift, that I was struggling with what I thought was expected of me to be able to delight, rest and pray in, with and to God.  He offered to me in that moment that my own delight in the beauty of creation, that having my breath taken away by the splendor before me was indeed prayerful.  That in that moment I was resting with something that was far beyond anything I would create and was just a moment for God and me to connect in the beauty and wonder of something bigger than I.

In this book Shauna talks often about all of the ways that God seeks us, and the ways that we can capture that.  Sometimes it’s taking the long way because it’s beautiful, because it’s sensory, because it reminds us of something good.  All of these are a nod to the ways that we can relax and settle into God who has given it all for you.  What I’m learning here is that rest and prayer and disciplines can look like a lot of different things, and it’s going to be varied for most of us.  So, for today I will find rest in the beauty of God.

Prayer: God of all creation, let us find extravagant beauty in ordinary encounters.  Let us take rest in the things that bring us joy and let us go the long way to see all you have given for us. Amen

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