As I look back on my relationship with my wife Joanne, one of the times that I recall with greatest fondness is the time in which I was “in pursuit” of her. As a couple of teenagers, we moved from being part of a larger group to spending more and more time alone with one another. Of course, I spent great time and energy (and a lot of brain cells!) planning and plotting to create more and more opportunities where the two of us would just happen to find ourselves alone. Eventually, my pursuit paid off, and we officially started dating. We dated for six years and will be married 40 years this November, 2022.
That time of pursuit and yearning for someone is filled with great excitement, hope, and possibility. This period must not be dismissed as somehow being pre-relationship. The reason that we yearn for and pursue someone is because we have encountered that person, are smitten, and want to continue to be smitten. Infatuation must not be dismissed. Though infatuation can be confused with love, it often is a stepping-stone to true love. And it is a rekindling of youthful infatuation that helps to keep a relationship going after many years.
During Lent, we strive to rekindle our infatuation—our yearning—for God. This is why Lent always features the story of the Transfiguration of Jesus on the second Sunday of the season. Peter, James, and John see Jesus in all his glory and are smitten. Peter thinks that this experience must be similar to the period of “courtship” between God and Israel when they traveled together in the desert and felt such intimacy, which is why Peter suggests setting up booths, or tents, to recreate the experience—a second honeymoon!
In her book, Braving the Thin Places: Celtic Wisdom to Create a Space for Grace, author Julianne Stanz writes, “Thin spaces bring to birth in us a greater yearning for God, and also a sense of belonging.” We are, in fact, born with this yearning. The Catechism reminds us that, “The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for.” (27)
God is always drawing us to himself. We yearn for God because we have in some way(s) in our lives encountered his goodness, truth, and beauty, and we are smitten. And we wish to be smitten more!
May this thin place of Lent deepen our infatuation with God, leading us to true love!