Lent is often seen as a time of giving up, of simplifying life so that a clear perspective is gained and for those on a spiritual path, the opportunity to draw closer to God is enhanced. In recent years, some also try taking on a discipline in Lent, with a view to ‘going beyond’ themselves, reaching out to others, and reaching the Holy in the process.
Anthony de Mello, a Jesuit priest, wrote many books to help people in such discipline, practical excercises “for people of all spiritual affiliations”. The following comes from his book Wellsprings, and seems an apt meditation to take up during Lent:
I pray to God that he will use me as a channel of his love and peace.
Then I compose a mantra that would formulate this prayer of mine –
Something like, ‘make me a channel of your peace.’
I recite the mantra for a while, linking it with the rhythm of my pulse or breathing.
The two things that most prevent me from being a channel of God’s grace are noise and sin.
So I begin by seeking silence as an antidote to noise:
I silence all my thinking and all interior speech,
By becoming conscious of my breathing or the sensations of my body.
Then I seek to cleanse my heart of sin:
I place before the Lord my feelings of resentment, anger, greed, possessiveness and jealousy, even mild dislikes and irritations,
Asking him to cleanse my heart of them so that his grace will flow through me unhampered.
Having attained a respite from my noise and negativity I imagine that a stream of love and peace wells up in me, flooding my being, then moving out.
First I guide it in the direction of people who are dear to me.
Then I direct the flow to those whom I shall meet today.
Now I guide the current towards people who oppose me or dislike me and those whom I dislike.
Finally I let if flow abundant, indiscriminate, to every creature in the universe: to animals and birds and trees and things inanimate.