Listening and Looking during Lent

by Kathleen Glavich, SND on March 4, 2015

in Blogs

thMy friend Sister Mary John Paul wrote an intriguing and thought-provoking article for our Associate newsletter. She let me share it here. Coincidentally (?) it echoes the theme of a book I’m reading now called Becoming Beholders. The book develops the idea that everything, person, and occasion can be a channel of grace, a sacrament. In it a line from a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J., is quoted: “These things, these things were here and but the beholder/Wanting.” The poet wrote this when he watched a beautiful harvest scene on a lovely day and realized the beauty of it was lost on him as he dwelt on the past and dreaded the future. Enjoy Sister’s thoughts!

Upaguru. Now isn’t that a sweet seven-letter word to plunk down proudly on your Scrabble board or Words with Friends?!

In Seven Thousand Ways to Listen, philosopher-poet Mark Nepo says: “In Hindu, an upaguru is the teacher that is next to you at any moment. This is not limited to a person.”

The remembrance of someone from the past flitting across your mind, the awesome sights and sounds of all creation, jolting scenes from the evening news, the Super Bowl commercial that tugged at your heart, the chance article in a doctor’s waiting room, the friend whose words challenge you to rethink a comfortable habit, the editorial that makes you take another look at your own position on a current issue, cookies fresh from the oven reminding you of your grandmother, an overheard conversation at the checkout counter, the realization that while part of our country is buried in tons of snow and ice, Californians are pleading with God for an end to their several year drought—and this is only the tip of the iceberg.harvest

Everything and everyone who crosses our path does so for a reason. Each is an upaguru, a teacher close by with something to offer us. The fact of the matter is that it’s not just the being nearby or beside me. It comes down to the One in-side me. It’s the incredible Spirit of God deep within me, the Holy Spirit at the heart of my being.

When do I have time to notice this teacher, let alone pay attention? From deep within you, hear the answer: NOW is the acceptable time!

Happy and Holy Lent!

By the way, one of the opening antiphons of the Divine Office during Lent is “If today you hear the voice of the Lord, harden not your heart.”

When have you experienced a “teaching” from an unexpected source?


{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Mark Misencik March 4, 2015 at 7:17 am

Hey Sister,

Does your question stem from the Buddhist saying, “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”? Upaguru being the teacher.



Kathleen Glavich, SND March 4, 2015 at 7:59 am

A good connection, Mark. That saying is so true. As a teacher, I had students who weren’t ready. They didn’t want to be in school. They fooled around in class, didn’t do their homework, and so forth. Consequently, they didn’t learn much. In life, we need to be open and sensitive to what we encounter and willing to reflect on it before we see the upaguru and learn. We might pray to Christ, who opened eyes and ears, to ready us to receive the teachings of life.


Gabrielle Renoir March 10, 2015 at 10:52 pm

I wish you a Holy Lent, Sister Kathleen!

I suppose what you wrote could also refer to Scholasticism and that philosophical principle that stated “What is received is received according to the mode of the receiver.” If someone goes to Mass, annoyed at having to get out of bed on a chilly spring morning, then is further annoyed by the crying babies during the Mass, that person will not receive as much grace from taking Holy Communion as another person who readied herself/himself with prayerful meditation prior to the Mass’ beginning. The graces of Holy Communion are there, but our receptivity plays a part.

I think of Christ almost constantly, and when not thinking of him, I am aware of his presence in my life. I seek always, of course, to become more aware and try to take advantage of every opportunity.

I think we can learn much from those who the Lord has already called home. They, too, are a presence in our lives at times, in a real way, not just as a memory. I had an experience like this several years ago that was the most powerful of my life, and it returned me to Christ full-time, something for which I will be eternally grateful.

I will keep you in my prayers during this beautiful and most significant season.



Kathleen Glavich, SND March 11, 2015 at 8:38 am

That is a good comparison, Gabrielle. Thanks for pointing it out. And, yes, I too believe that our deceased loved ones are still with us but in another dimension. A blessed Lent to you too!


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