FRIDAY OF LENT WEEK 3
Gospel Mk 12: 28-34. You are not far from the kingdom of God
When as a university student I was first introduced to meditation by John Main I knew I was being touched and awakened by a fully authentic wisdom. It was a glimpse, a taste of a certain truth so simple and profound that it was on the other side of doubt. At the same time, a new hunger was aroused - maybe you could call it the love of God - which was the purest desire I had ever felt. In short, I really wanted to meditate. I tried to get into a regular practice and failed, although the clarity that one day it would click did not weaken. A few years later it came together. Timing is everything.
I have spoken with many people who are in the same position that I was in on first hearing about meditation. They have often genuinely wanted to start the journey for some time. When we finish speaking, they may say they are clear and determined - and they have the discipline - so now, finally, they will start. Sometime later, when we speak again it still hasn’t come together. They may be doing it a couple of times a week, missing it for periods altogether, feeling stuck in the swampy middle ground between starting and giving up.
This is another example of the success of failure. Of course, it is embarrassing to one’s vanity not to be able to do what you want to do, just as it is when you can’t stop doing something that you want to stop. Failure, however, merges into success (without the ego) as you learn that what matters in the spiritual realm is faithfulness not achievement. Lent is an annual reminder that the climb to the top is what matters, not planting your flag on the summit in triumph.
Nothing is wasted, especially missing the mark. Repeated failures wear down the ego a notch more as soon as we start again. Humility is the fragrant flower of this process; obviously not as a virtue you feel proud to have acquired but as a disposition that you feel surprised and grateful to see taking form in you. One loves oneself better when you see the first shoots of humility appear like Spring flowers amid all the remnants of the past.
Meditation is not an end in itself. It is a way. As long as you are on the way, with whatever fidelity you are capable of, seeds of contemplation are being produced and fall around you. In little ways, you are becoming a contemplative without knowing it. But when the right degree of self-knowledge has been reached and you see that your failures are less significant than your faithfulness, it won’t be long before you can do what you want to do.
Lenten Reflections 2021