Last week one of the children of the church came up to her parents and asked if she could go to the Spirituality Center. The response of her mother was, “Is it on?” The child said, “I don’t know, but if it isn’t, I know how to turn it on.” And off she went.
It gives me joy to see the interest in spending time in the Spirituality Center coming from all ages. It is something we all look forward to every Lent, and I am grateful to all who help make it happen. But I had to make an admission to the mom after her daughter walked away. “I don’t understand what you mean by ‘turning on’ the center?” Turns out there were all kinds of things I had missed on my visit.
The truth is I had made a quick pass through the Spirituality Center one afternoon, casting glances at the various centers, seeing enough to know it was an exploration of each phrase of the Lord’s Prayer. But I had other things pressing in on me, so I failed to really see and experience the grace all around.
So I returned, and this time I turned it on. I turned on the candles at each station, the running water, and the music. I stopped at each station and did the practices each invited.
I touched the water in the crystal bowl, reminding myself that I am baptized, that I enter this space of prayer as a child of God.
I lit a candle and said a prayer for someone in pain.
I listened to music and read the text to the Hymn, “I Believe in God the Father.”
I looked at the drawings of so many of our children’s visions of what the world looks like when the kingdom comes on earth as it is in heaven.
As I tasted bread, I prayed for those who lack daily bread.
I acknowledged my sin by writing on a stone and submerging it in water as a reminder of the God who forgives and washes me clean.
I contributed to the symbols of peace and forgiveness made from the stones.
I added to the paths traced by others, praying that God would lead me in paths of righteousness.
I knelt in prayer, breathing in and out the truth that “Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.
When I said the final “amen,” I remembered words that the late Shirley Guthrie often said. “You cannot control the grace of God and you cannot predict where it will emerge. But you can put yourself in the place where that grace has been known to happen before.” I thank the child who reminded me that day to slow down, place myself in that gracious space, and turn it on. Spiritual disciplines are not how we control God’s grace or earn God’s grace. They are how we put ourselves in the place where God’s grace has been known to happen. And when we do that, we sense the truth and power that is always present if we have eyes to see and ears to hear.
If you haven’t already, please visit the Spirituality Center this Lent. And don’t forget to turn it on.