I wonder how much of life I have missed simply because I have been dashing on, from one thing to another and have not, for a moment, stopped, looked and listened. In a headlong rush to “get things done”, I have perhaps failed to see the world in all its wonder. And when I do stop, look and listen I am usually intrigued or surprised or delighted or encouraged. It’s never a dull experience.
I particularly like the “stop, look and listen” moment in the book of Exodus, when Moses encounters God:
Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. Then Moses said, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.” When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” [Exodus 3 vs 1 to 4, from the NRSV]
Moses saw the burning bush and turned aside. He could have walked on by, after all he was a busy man looking after his father-in-law’s livestock. It wouldn’t do to return to Jethro with half the flock missing because he’d been inattentive! But Moses didn’t continue on with his work, he didn’t just walk by. He turned aside to look. And as he turned aside to look, God saw him and God called him. God called him by name. From this simple act of turning aside, Moses heard the call of God and discovered his vocation as the one who would lead the children of Abraham from slavery to freedom.
The season of Lent is a great opportunity to “turn aside”, to “stop, look and listen”. It is, like Advent, a season of prayer and reflection. For some Christians, abstinence helps to frame and focus that reflection. For others the performance of good works or specific acts of worship or reading carefully chosen books, brings the heart soul and mind round to concentrate on God. However we participate in Lent, I hope we can all find good times to “stop, look and listen”, to see the the “great sight” God has prepared for us, to hear His voice calling and to discover anew His calling on our lives, His vocation for each and every one of us.