“Go from your country”: The Second Sunday of Lent

Posted by Philip Shano, SJ in Our Seasons

"Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you." Go peacefully and gracefully into the unknown. Our Lenten journey takes us another step or two along the path. That path is marked by unknowns, not all offering a welcome. There are blessings and curses. As we saw on the First Sunday, everything can speak to us, even a desert and a stone.Source:

Like Lent, my medical journey travels at its own speed, with every little thing speaking to me. I'm still waiting to be shown the right medical diagnosis. I wait. Patiently, I hope. Suffice to say that I'm becoming one of those people whose body slowly deteriorates while the brain and spirit functions in a more or less "normal" manner. I think I'd prefer that to watching my mind waste away. Do we have a choice? Some people have it both ways, either for good or for ill.

I'm awaiting a brain scan to verify what is happening to my brain and its effects on my body. For lack of a detailed description, my motor functions are off. That effects mobility and cognitive functions. I'm relying on a walker and major editing corrections as I type on my iPad. If only you knew how many times I have pressed the wrong key! 

I should have realized that this would be an issue. For years, the ideas flowed much more quickly than I could type them. Now both the ideas and the words require an effort. Think of the Sloth, the Zootopia character who lives in slow motion. That's what my life has become. The issue seems to be neurological, but that remains my hunch until the brain scan verifies things. 

Source: ammaruns.wordpress.comSlowness has always been an issue! I do know that I am slow to listen. After my brain tumour in the early part of the century, I swore that my life was now about being not doing. Nice try! Did I really believe that I was changed forever? I'm afraid that I gradually slipped back to my usual way of proceeding. I could accuse myself of taking on far too much. It would be easy to blame others for asking me to do something. Surely they would not do that if they thought I was taking on too much!

What possessed me to think that others would take responsibility for my personal formation? Such blame is not so easy. How much is related to the image that we project? Did I say yes to do too much? Should I have eaten breakfast each day? Should I have sworn off caffeine and alcohol? Should I have had eight hours sleep each night? A much more pertinent question is: Should I have been more committed to friends and vacationing and time off? We make our own mistakes and have to live with the consequences. Source:

What is certain is that, if I am honest and reflective about what is happening and how I deal with it, this is "good for the spiritual life," as my old Novitiate classmate Martin used to say. A related question is how helpful this is for dealing with others in spiritual direction and counselling.

I do know that in listening to and being with others, nothing in our experience is ever wasted. And, in that vein, there is a new wisdom that I can take with me into the remaining years of my life. Will I learn this time? Or will it require another major health crisis? Are the affects of human transfiguration experiences once and for all? How often do we require conversion? 

The Gospel tells us that Jesus came and touched the disciples and said, "Get up and do not be afraid." He is reminding us to not give in to fear, but to forge ahead, down the mountain. Lent continues! 

About The Author

Philip Shano, SJ has many years of rich and varied experience working with Ignatian spirituality: teaching, writing and using it in his ministry. He resides in the Jesuit community in Pickering, Ontario.

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Vicky Chen on March 12, 2017 - 9:52 AM

Thank you for such honest sharing of yourself, Phil. Neurological degeneration is very hard to accept.....particularly when you do not yet have a diagnosis. Our imagination can go wild. Do not hope for the mind going first.....for right now we can at least try to be reflective and remain grateful. Changes of improvement come very slowly. Hang in there. Will continue to pray for you.

Jeannette on March 12, 2017 - 12:21 PM

Thank you for sharing your journey, Philip. As Spiritual Directors who listen attentively to others, we sometimes find it hardest to listen to what is happening on our own spiritual journey, especially when the physical reality is making it more difficult to be attentive. Remember Jesus' words as encompassed in this short song of Joyce Rupp - "I am with you on the journey, and I will never leave you. I am with you on the journey, always with you." Will hold you in prayer. As Teilhard de Chardin SJ says -"trust in the slow work of God...God's hand will lead you."

Bruce on March 12, 2017 - 5:15 PM

Thank you for writing this.

Peter Bisson on March 13, 2017 - 2:39 AM

Thank you, Philip.

Linda G on March 13, 2017 - 2:44 AM

Hang in there! Prayers and blessings.