After the public display of Ash Wednesday, God moves among us unnoticed in everyday life. During this first week of Lent, we are reminded God takes up residence in the lives of the unassuming ones. And, as always, God visits them at unexpected times.

The messenger of God’s healing word, the Word, himself, moves out to those on the perimeter, those disconnected from the benefits of the center(of society). Jesus goes there to seek out the forgotten. He goes with arms ready to embrace them. There, he not only plants his tent and makes his home, he hangs out his shingle: “Totally Available.” Discipleship flourishes on the periphery because it is free of the constraints of the center. The pressures of conformity disappear, and the disciples are free to see with uncluttered eyes. Often, they see more than they can take care of. So they are always recruiting new help as new needs arise.

As discipleship flourishes, so does a sense of responsibility. This time, however, it takes a new form. Relationships at the center tend to move from the top down. Making distinctions is important, and autonomy is rewarded. On the periphery, responsibility wears the face of interdependence. The illusion of self-determination, fostered at the center, is dispelled by the truth that one should not have to go it alone. The presence of a caring community enables personal gifts to surface and be put at the disposal of others.

In all of creation, that which empties itself out in generosity, returns filled with new life. There is a recurring pattern of being called forth, leaving behind, emptying out, and life returning in a new form.

The God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Jesus waits with utmost patience for our response to the call put to us. Their God and our God also waits for a full-throated call, on our part, for help in time of need. The greatest insult friends give each other, is not to call on the other in time of need.

It is the same way in our friendship with God. God loves to hear, “I come to do your will.”(Hebrews 10: 9) God, even more longingly, wants to hear our cry, “Come to our aid, O God of the universe.” (Sirach 36:1)

This post was written by Dominican Sister of Hope Jo-Ann Iannotti, OP. It was taken from her recently published book, Remember, Return, Rejoice: Journeying from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday. Sister Jo-Ann is the Art and Spirituality Coordinator at Wisdom House Retreat Center in Litchfield, CT.

Sister Jo-Ann’s book can be purchased by emailing a programs@wisdomhouse.org.