First Saturday of Lent
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.