Even now, says the Lord,

return to me with your whole heart,

with fasting, and weeping, and mourning;

Rend your hearts, not your garments,

and return to the Lord, your God.

For gracious and merciful is he,

slow to anger, rich in kindness,

and relenting in punishment.

Perhaps he will again relent

and leave behind him a blessing,

Offerings and libations

for the Lord, your God.

~Joel 2:12-14

When Mom and I went to Mass for Ash Wednesday, this beautiful passage from the book of Joel was one of the readings, and it stayed with me afterwards, especially the line: “Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the Lord, your God.”

God is interested in what is in our hearts. “Return to Me,” says God. Let’s use this time of pursuing our dreams as a journey of spiritual renewal in which we return to God and let Him speak to our hearts and renew our spirits.

I will confess that there have been times when I allowed my morning devotional to become a substitute for attending church, which it’s not meant to be. Personal daily devotions have one place in our spiritual life, and attending church belongs to the part of us that needs communion with others.

I am returning to God through my commitment to go back to church and work on a part of my faith that I’m not generally comfortable with, being part of a church community. I am choosing to overcome my public shyness and embrace my greater desire for communion with other Christians.

Are you part of a regular church community? If not, will you make plans to find a local church to call you spiritual home?

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