As we dive deeper into the heart of Lent and its call to repentance, let another faith tradition help shed light on the Christian meaning of that call.
A Sufi master lost the key to his house and was looking for it on the lawn outside, running his fingers through each blade of grass. His disciples came along and asked what happened. “I lost the key to my house,” he said. “Can we help you find it?” they asked. “I’d be delighted!” he replied. His disciples got down beside him, running their fingers through the grass. After some hours, one asked, “Master, where have you lost the key?” He answered, “In the house.” The disciples looked astonished. “Why look for it out here?” they exclaimed. The master replied, “There’s more light!”
Crazy, yet that is us being depicted in this parable! We need these 40 days of Lent to find the key to true happiness, and to change the place we look for it. That’s repentance: to reexamine the places in our lives we look for happiness; to recognize we habitually live outside ourselves rather than within. Lent is about going where God speaks to our souls, teaching and feeding us with His daily bread. Lent is about finding what we have lost. Lent takes us inside.
It’s much easier to focus on the lights and stimulation of things outside of oneself. There are always wonderful people and experiences to keep us amused and preoccupied. When I leave them to venture inside myself, the silence and stillness seem dark and scary until I approach them consistently. Good things happen when we slow down and enter the quiet. An abiding peace and joy can be found in that “house” that cannot be found among the fleeting pleasures and momentary rushes in the front yard. The peace the world can never give and the key to happiness begin from within.
I am often asked, “Fr. Wisdom, I am really searching for God in my life.” I respond, “Why? He’s not lost.” God is always with us! It is we who leave Him through sinful rejection, angry neglect or pure indifference. We often leave God simply through a non-sinful, but faulty lack of daily awareness.
Lent is about refocusing on the moment-by-moment presence of God. Living in search of God finds the key to happiness in the only place it can be found: within. «Informal_Salutation_Salutation_Text», leave the front yard and go back into “your house” this Lent. Find in one of those many rooms the key to what we all look for: the God of peace who could not love you any more in the very next moment than He loves you right now!
Fr. Andrew-Carl Wisdom
Director of the Society for Vocational Support