Pathways through Lent

Connecting, even in combat.

First Saturday of Lent

[Saint Joseph]

Deuteronomy 11:18-28 Psalms 55, 138, 139 Hebrew 5:1-10 John 4:1-26

In 2002 when I was stationed in South Carolina, the local diocese held a Great Gathering. During its final Eucharist, the bishop invited each of us to take, from a large fountain, two glass beads representing the sacraments of baptism and confirmation. He told us to keep them as a reminder of our connection to God.

I took those glass beads with me the following week as I deployed for what became Operation Iraqi Freedom. I carried them every day in my side cargo pocket of my desert combat uniform pants.

A year ago, when I was preparing again to deploy⎯this time to Afghanistan⎯I made sure to pack those glass beads. I again carried them daily in my side cargo pocket.

No matter how many times I deploy, there is anxiety and uncertainty. Each deployment means leaving my connections to my job, friends, family, and church⎯all those things that bring comfort in life.

In the stresses of combat, it is easy for each 20-hour day to run into the next, whether it is Sunday, a holy day, or Lent. It seems impossible to be connected, to be intentional in prayer.

But every time I felt overwhelmed, felt saddened by loss of fallen comrades, felt spiritually disconnected, I heard those glass beads clink. If only for a moment, I was drawn to prayer.

I was connected. In our busy lives, this is important.

May we all find something this Lent that connects us to our personal reflections and prayer life.

Marilyn Jenkins

Prayer Beads...photo by Mike Angell

 

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