Waiting and Listening in Lent

This is Johanne Vermeer's painting of Jesus in the house of Mary and Martha. It's one of the "visio divina" (sacred visual "seeing" God) art pieces that Juliet Benner devotes an entire chapter to in her wonderful and highly recommended book, "Contemplative Vision." I'm using this book for my own Lenten journey this year on my 40 day walk until Easter. It's an amazing experience for me to use Benner's book this Lent and I encourage you to get it and order it and follow it with me this Lent. We'll learn a lot together, no doubt!The art depicts the scene where Jesus is being waited on by both Mary and Martha--but in different ways. One is busy. One is waiting and listening. Both count and matter but one matters more to Jesus. That's the first level of "seeing" this painting.Vermeer's painting is fascinating on many levels but none compare with this insight that Benner offered me this morning. Take a look at the clothes that Mary and Martha are wearing. They are dressed like Flemish women living in Vermeer's day and age. The house looks Dutch. The table cloth is typical Dutch. But contrast that to what Jesus is wearing. He's dressed like a 1st century Rabbi.Why is that so compelling for me? Because this Lenten season, I'm writing a book which is really my life's work so far. It's entitled The Jesus Life and will be published in January 2012. In the book, I'm taking the reader on a journey to explore why the Abundant Life that Jesus promised us is so elusive today. Why are there so many followers of Jesus who are now the "tired, worn out and burned out" ones that Jesus addresses and says that we can "recover the life" that we have lost.Vermeer's painting depicts what needs to happen to 21st century believers. We need the real, the old, the time-tested Jesus to show up in our lives today. We need the Jesus truth to help us find the Jesus Way so that we can live the Jesus life. I need Jesus now--March 9th, 2011 and I will need Jesus to show up as he really is--every day of my journey into Lent. I don't need a contemporary Jesus dressed in fashionable clothing with gelled hair and a suave cadence. I need the Jewish Rabbi who will show me the ancient truths and real way that has been clouded by our fetishes to be relevant, timely and "different." I have grown weary of such attempts in my 56 year journey to live my life.I love Vermeer's way of reminding me that I just need Jesus, the Jew to show up to me as an American and tell me how to live my one and only life.This is my Lenten Journey. How do you need Jesus to show up for you and should he choose to do so, would he be dressed like Vermeer has him or in a way that you are imagining right now?Stephen W. SmithPotter's Innwww.pottersinn.com