At our church’s Ash Wednesday service last night, we were encouraged to meditate on our need for God and the journey of Lent by passing through five interactive stations in which received ashes, remembered our baptism, were anointed with oil, burned away oppression, and lit candles to represent God’s light along the way. Often when I close my eyes and practice meditation, I’m sensitive to the sounds around me or other voices. I have trouble accepting rather than getting frustrated by my own thoughts, because I forget that meditation isn’t about perfection or getting it right, but simply being with God.
But last night as the music filtered through the air and voices trickled in, it felt good and right to be in a community of great need and vulnerability. I sat in awe of a moment so sacred from the rest of our busy lives because people were faithfully voicing their needs for prayer, healing, and connection aloud and laying their needs bare.
Over the past few weeks my attention has been drawn simply but persistently to my own need for God. And yet, when I start to feel afraid or insecure, I think I need competence, credentials, and success. What I really need, of course, like the Israelites wandering around in the desert, the disciples and other believers facing uncertainty in the form of the cross, and this broken world, is God. I don’t actually need all my plans, lofty goals, or even productivity, but I very much need God.
Last night I knew this impetus to focus on my great need from Lent was a word from God, because I felt so deeply grateful. I felt grateful to hear those needs voiced aloud, and to see us offering prayer and healing for one another, because our needs have the power to draw us together. When we cover them up and try to be gods ourselves, we find we have no companions for this very human journey, and we lead one another away rather than to God.
I feel grateful to serve a God that supplies my need. I can, and I hope I will, especially during Lent, let the tasks and the doubts and the playing god fall to God, so that my need for God will be what marks this holy season in the wilderness.