Lenten Devotion: Humility

The Lenten Devotion for this week is from Slowing Time by Barbara Mahany.

Barbara Mahany graced our lives last year with a reading from her book, Slowing Time.  Throughout this treasure, she reflects on how difficult it can be to slow down. In our frenetic-paced lives, (like getting ready for Spring Break) today’s post persuades us that a dose of humility, to slow down, can lead more intimate life with God than any of our myriad “to-do’s”.


There is an art to being still, and I am practicing.

The birth of the day, it seems, is the hour that calls me. And, actually, all I’m going for is a mere slice of that hour. Ten minutes, for starters. For beginners like me.

There is little hope, I figure, of trying to squeeze it in, in the thick of the day, between all the rushing and dashing and typing and trolling for words.

And, at the end of the day, when the blanket of stars are out and the house is winding down to a hum, I figure my brain has gone blank, in that numb—not that crisp—sort of a way. Or, worse, it’s so overstuffed by that hour that all I’d do is churn and rechurn whatever the day had left in its wake. There’d be no stillness within.

It’s hard enough at the dawn. Hard enough to keep the tick-tock at bay.

But I’ve begun.

Before the first dabs of light are soaking the low-down sky, I am tiptoeing out of my bed, stumbling downstairs, scooping my coffee beans. The cat, always hungry, demands his share of my morning attentions—and his own scoop from the tin in the fridge.

Then, warm mug cupped in my palms, I reach for the door and step under the holiest dome, the dome of the dawn as it breaks into double-time spring.

And that’s when it hit me, my first morning out: I’d just stepped into a cauldron of birdsong soup. There were so many layers of so many sounds, coming from so many places, my ears—at first—could barely pick it apart.

I have to admit, stillness didn’t come easy. Wasn’t a natural fit, not for me, anyway.

Before my ten minutes was clocked, I was itching to dig in the dirt. I’d tallied a list that beckoned me and my ministrations: the climbing hydrangea that needed a lifeguard, weeds that might do with a shrill short blast of a whistle, demanding they stop in their trespassing tracks.

But I also noticed this: The longer you sit in rapt silence, utter attention, the deeper you sink into the whole of it, the line between you and the earth and the sky and the dew all but evaporating.

And in the calm of the dawn, I might remember the words to the prayer that, for too long, have been dimmed. And very much missing.

Mahany, Barbara, Slowing Time; Seeing the Sacred Outside Your Kitchen Door, 65-68