Longing For Green Pastures – A Lenten Reflection by Kimberlee Conway Ireton

by Christine Sine

Today’s Lenten reflection in the series  Easter is Coming: What Do We Hunger and Thirst For?  comes from Kimberlee Conway Ireton. It was first published on her blog as Green PasturesKimberlee is a reader, a writer (she’s written a book: The Circle of Seasons: Meeting God in the Church Year), and a mother (of four) which is what she blogs about at http://www.kimberleeconwayireton.net/


It’s been a day. Sometimes, it seems like it’s been a whole long string of days, and I am tired.

Jack wants me to come outside and see the hole he’s dug in the back yard and the coal he thinks he’s found. Jane wants me to read her a story. And the twins are fussy and cling to me. If I set either of them down, that one wails.

My ears need a break from the noise, the constant words and cries that drum at me from four directions.

My body needs a break from being a jungle gym and a security blanket.

I inhale and exhale the Jesus Prayer—Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me—and ask Jane to bring me a book, one the babies will enjoy. She brings Psalm 23, gorgeously illustrated by Barry Moser.

Luke squawks while I read. Ben tries to grab the book and eat it. Both grab at the pages. I keep breathing in and out, the Jesus Prayer rolling over and over in my mind—have mercy on me, have mercy on me.

A half hour later, Luke and Ben are in their high chairs, happily (and quietly!) eating Cheerios. Jack and Jane are playing outside.

I squat in front of my laptop, which is on the floor, for a reason I can no longer remember, if in fact I ever knew. While I wait for it to boot, I rest my head on my knees, close my eyes. They ache. Until this moment, when I closed them, let them rest, I did not know that they ached.

I take a long, deep breath. The Lenten questions prick at the edge of my mind: What do I hunger for? What do I thirst for?

I hunger for silence, stillness, rest. Time to simply be.

I thirst for space to reflect and ponder and hagah the word of God.

The Bible memory work I do each day is good. Praying as I go about my daily work is good. Creating a cone of silence around myself so I can think is good.

But sometimes I need to sit and soak in Scripture, not just say it in snatches. Sometimes I need to pray in silence and stillness and not in the midst of some other thing. Sometimes I need real silence, not the zoned-out cone I am able to create in the midst of chaos.

As I sit on the floor, my head on my knees, I think of Moser’s Caribbean rendering of Psalm 23. In the painting that accompanies the words “he restores my soul,” a sheep lies in green grass, the blazing sun shimmering hot on the field. Beside her, a young shepherd holds a large leaf in his outstretched hand, holds the leaf over her, creates shade for her to lie in, so that the sun shall not strike her by day.

I want to be that sheep. I want the Good Shepherd to make me lie down in green pastures, to lead me beside quiet waters, to restore my soul. I want to rest like that sheep in the shelter of the divine wings, to lean on the everlasting arms.

That is what I hunger for, what I thirst for.

And I realize, I who sit in this oasis of silence, these few precious moments of stillness—I realize I have been given that gift. Right here, right now, God is restoring my soul.

I exhale a short prayer of gratitude, simply the words thank you, even as I long for this moment to last and last and last.

It doesn’t.

Luke shrieks. Ben has stolen his Cheerio bowl. I inhale another Jesus Prayer, knowing (for a moment anyway) that my cry for mercy has already been answered, is being answered, will continue to be answered.

I get to my feet and go to my boys.

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1 comment

Sharon O March 23, 2012 - 8:37 am

The role of being a mom is so important and I realize how hard it is at times especially with little ones. The ‘words about your body being a jungle gym’ is right on I remember wondering if my hip would ever just become mine.
From an older mom/grandma to a younger one, this time will pass ever so quickly and you will wonder where it went. Even in the midst of the chaos remember you are so blessed that they call you ‘mommy’.
Keep breathing and hang on…the journey has just begun for you.

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