My dictionary defines “linger” as “to continue to stay, as though reluctant to leave.” It is an intriguing definition for one who wishes to be contemplative. Contemplatives are lingerers, ones who know that the longer we gaze upon something, the more deeply and fully we actually see it. Contemplatives have learned through experience that the way to know God is to spend time “gazing upon Him” in prayer.
I like to linger beside my favorite window. I recognize, as I look through the glass, that there are two ways of experiencing a view. One way is to glance briefly toward it. Another is to sit down and linger. After awhile, the lingerer becomes aware of things missed in a once-over viewing. Sun glancing off a parked car, turning light into sharp darts of color. The first yellow of a daffodil. A squirrel running gracefully across the lawn.
I am refreshed when I take time to linger with the beauty of nature. I’m refreshed and changed when I linger with Jesus. Having spent time with Him, I find that perhaps I see Him just a bit more clearly. Whether I am aware of it or not, I’ve gotten to know Him better than I knew Him before the time of lingering. I may even become aware of gifts - inspirations, insights, comfort, serenity - that I would not have experienced had I not lingered. “I often wait with great graces until towards the end of prayer,” Jesus said to St. Faustina. Graces wait for those willing to linger….
Today I allowed myself to linger with Psalm 145. I lingered so long, in fact, that I only got through verse 7 (out of 21 verses). But that is fine – it’s much more than fine. The psalm was to be a springboard to prayer, not an “assignment.”
I began with the words of praise to which the psalm called me. I pondered the greatness of the Lord. I noticed the beautiful day outside my window, and thanked Him for the wonders I saw there. I then was struck by vs. 4: “Generation after generation praises Your works..” This led me into prayer for my children, my grandchildren, and all future generations of my family to come, ever. God sees them, even now. I prayed that they will praise His works; that they will know, love and serve Him in their time and throughout eternity.
I could go on and on, but I will spare you. It is the first of March, and my thoughts are turning toward the cloister garden. God willing, we’ll meet there next!
Scriptures for prayer:
“I have waited, waited for the Lord, and he stooped toward me and heard my cry. He drew me out of the pit of destruction, out of the mud of the swamp; He set my feet upon a crag; he made firm my steps, and He put a new song into my mouth, a hymn to our God.” (Psalm 40:2-3)
“Let your belts be fastened around your waists and your lamps be burning ready. Be like men awaiting their master’s return from a wedding, so that when he arrives and knocks, you will open for him without delay.” (Luke 12:35-36)
And for personal reflection
Am I willing to linger with God for a few extra minutes of prayer today? To talk to Him just a little while longer, praise Him one more time, listen for the gentle inspirations of His Holy Spirit?
What happens when I do this?
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