Lenten Reflection, Sunday, March 8, 2020
By: Sarah Hogeboom
“Let other people love you. The nature of love is reciprocal and relational, so love is incomplete when we don’t let it to come to us.” –Amy Julia Becker
Our kids are each about two years apart. Charlotte was born in 2011, Russell in 2013, and Colin in 2015. So for about eight years there, I was blessed to have a baby on my hip. Now that our youngest is four, even he is getting too big for me to carry him (though I still try!).
Now that my hands are a little less full, I was able to participate in the lovely weekend St. Mary’s hosted last month with author Amy Julia Becker. That was where I found—among many other gifts—my Lenten practice for this year.
During Amy Julia’s adult forum talk she explained that as human beings, we are created in God’s image to receive and reflect God’s love. She offered many practical ways to receive God’s love, and I was especially moved by one idea: “to use your spiritual imagination to envision yourself as a beloved child, climbing up onto God’s lap, being welcomed and received just as you are.”
So far this Lent, each morning before the kids wake up, I have spent a few minutes doing just that. I close my eyes and take a few deep breaths. I try to imagine I am about three years old, and I am being held by God.
To do this I draw on memories of being held as a child myself—in my mom’s arms, snuggled up on my dad’s lap, and passed back and forth between aunts, uncles, and grandparents. (My Papa Frank was an especially good hugger.) I remember what it felt like to be wrapped up tight in a warm towel after a bath. To be carried half asleep to bed after long day of playing outside. To be read to. To be loved just the way I am.
It seems simple, but it is so profound to really try to be open to God’s love in this way. As His child.
The love that I feel for my own children is so big and all-consuming, that if God loved me that much, that would be enough. But I think what John is telling us in this week’s reading is that God loves us even more than we can possibly imagine. And the reading from Genesis about Abram helps me understand that God’s love is so abundant, so full of grace, that we can trust it to sustain generations.
If I’m honest, it feels a little uncomfortable to make time in my day to receive God’s love. And if any of you think it’s little “out there” that I am spending my mornings pretending I’m three, I would understand. But I’m finding already with this Lenten practice that I have more presence, more patience, and more space in my heart to reflect God’s love.
And just when I am fully immersed in prayerful contemplation … someone makes their way downstairs, so I put down my coffee and pull him onto my lap – even if he is getting too big.