“Jesus went out again beside the lake; the whole crowd gathered around him, and he taught them. As he was walking along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he got up and followed him.” ~ Mark 2:13-14
Last weekend, I went to a spirituality conference hosted by Spiritual Direction Colorado. This conference, for me, was amazing and totally worth attending. I still don’t have many words to describe it. The speaker, Paula D’Arcy, was someone I really wanted to hear after reading a book she wrote several years ago about when she and her family were in a car accident in which her husband and small daughter were killed. The book tells how she walked out of the darkness being led by God and encouraged by friends.
The music – an Indian flute, two guitars, piano and two singing voices – was wonderful. The voices were not intrusive and it led me into silence and prayer every time. I believe that was its design. Paula was everything I had hoped. As we left the conference, I knew that I had not attended because I wanted to go, only, but because I had been called there by God. I also knew that I had said “Yes.” to God for something that I do not know. The sense that I have, after some reflection, is that this “yes” is not to something new in ministry but to deeper awareness and growth in love. I know that it profoundly touched me.
So, what to do? I don’t think “do” is the point. Awareness is a being thing, not a doing activity. We are led by God, but a leader requires a follower, and in this case, more of a follower who is being carried or towed toward the light of Jesus. As we are towed we not only follow the light but we also carry the light. “Follow me,” Jesus says in the gospel lesson from Morning Prayer, today. His disciples did, then, and we try today. That is our intent.
We are still in the Epiphany Season which began on January 6 with the Feast Day of Epiphany. We celebrate the coming of the wise men or magi. A star caught their attention that night in the desert. It must have been bright enough to seem worthy of a pilgrimage. When they came from the East following a star, they only had a sense that a new king was born – a king so important that they were willing to travel from a far distance to worship him. I doubt that they knew what the impact would be from this act of worship or even that this baby King was God. I doubt that Levi, or the rest of Jesus disciples, knew what the impact of following Jesus would be. But we know.
How can we follow the star that will lead us to Jesus? How can we see it in the first place? Awareness is the key. How can we become more aware of God in the everyday, ordinary days of our lives? Examen of consciousness is a Christian practice to help us become aware and it is simple. All we have to do is take a few minutes at the end of every day to review the events of that day asking God to show us evidence of his presence that we might have missed. As we reflect on every aspect of our day, we ask God, “Show me where you were present today in the ordinary things of my life? We write them down so we won’t forget. And with practice, we begin to see him every day more and more.
As with gladness men of old did the guiding star behold;
as with joy they hailed its light, leading onward, beaming bright;
so most gracious Lord, may we evermore be led to thee. ~ The Hymnbook, 1982