Most of us will be unable to find God amid constant clamour and activity unless we have first found him in stillness.

Take these few moments of quiet …
to let yourself become aware …
-   of the sounds around you…
-   of the sensations in your body …
-   of your breathing…
-   of God’s presence here with you today
-   Find two small stones, and keep them in your pocket for the rest of Lent - a symbol of some of the things (grudges, misunderstandings, resentments) that you need to have the courage to roll away if you are to find happiness and peace of mind. Roll the stones away when Easter comes.


Luke 1:46-55 NRSV

And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my saviour, for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever."


‘Symbols’, said St Augustine, ‘are visible signs of invisible realities.’

We live and move in two worlds, the material and the spiritual, and when these two worlds converge we glimpse signs of God’s presence, and experience the ‘touch’ of God in our lives. Signs and symbols are sometimes called the language of the soul: they touch into our inner world, the world of the spirit. To those with eyes to see and ears to hear, they reveal the inward element of the physical life that the outward aspect hints at and suggests. They help us to become aware of God’s nearness in our lives, of God’s loving solidarity with us in all that happens in our lives and in our world. They remind us that ‘Earth’s crammed with heaven and every common bush afire with God’.

Promises are articulated through written or spoken words, and ‘Word’ is one of the most powerful Christian symbols of the nearness of God. What does it mean to hope that God’s promises will be fulfilled when we witness the desperation of poor and hungry people, the greed of those who exploit others, the violence of those who attack the weak?

The words of the ‘Magnificat’ show that Mary knows what it means to live in hope in a broken world: she fearlessly acknowledges the injustice she sees, but she places her hope in God’s promises, which she trusts will transform the existing reality. For Mary, the divine promises are dynamic: God “has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty”. Where God is, there is hope, and there is transformation.


Is there any way you could make the symbol of the cross central in your personal observance of the remaining weeks of Lent?
Recall a moment in your own life when you perceived that ‘Earth’s crammed with heaven’, and felt that God was very near…
What are some of the signs of hope that you have become aware of during the pandemic?
As the reality of climate change takes hold, have you noticed any signs that people are becoming more aware of the need to respect and care for the natural world?
Before you sleep tonight, thank God for any signs of hope you have seen today.

The cross is the most ancient and widely recognised Christian symbol. Hailed as the ‘only hope’ of salvation, the cross reminds us that through the suffering of Jesus, God brought victory out of defeat, life out of death, hope out of despair.