FRIDAY OF LENT WEEK 5
Gospel Jn 10: 31-42. They wanted to arrest Jesus but he eluded them.
We are approaching the end of Lent and the beginning of Holy Week. It’s a good time, if you are so inclined, to review and evaluate what the past six weeks have taught you. Has anything changed? Do you see anything differently? Are you more free or less? What patterns stay intractable? Where have they loosened up?
Any point of serious reflection on the meaning of experience is like the god Janus. For the Romans he was the god of doors and passageways, of ends and beginnings. Every door is a way in, a way out and a way through. Every window can be looked into and out of and through.
To reflect on meaning is a way of passing time but it shouldn’t take all our time otherwise we wouldn’t have time to live. Living fully means taking the attention off ourselves. Rather than keeping ourselves at the centre of every scene, delivering great soliloquies, we allow ourselves to become a minor player or even go offstage. Meaning then appears as an experience of intimate connection with dimensions of reality beyond the one which obsesses us, namely ourselves. As a result, we become aware of ourselves more clearly by activating our peripheral vision which includes most of our vision field. We see in more directions. Taking the attention off ourselves as a fixed point of self-observation allows us to see and know better.
In the gospel these days Jesus is described approaching Jerusalem, the beginning of his Passion and the end of his life. He is strongly aware of what is coming towards him as he approaches it. In many traditions the enlightened, who see in the whole field of vision, know of their approaching death.
As I thought of this, I remembered the phrase ‘future events cast their shadows before them’. Curious about its origin I was led to a painting of that title by a 19th century Canadian artist (Charles Caleb Ward) from the rural Eastern Provinces. It is a simple but moving scene of a poor family gazing at a poster advertising the imminent arrival of Barnum’s Circus. It depicts wonders and bizarre things, like Egyptian mummies and horned horses not normally seen in New Brunswick. Exciting things, out of the ordinary, to look forward to. Visible to us are tattered remains of old posters promising past futures. Behind the parents and two of their children is a third child, a boy absorbed not in the poster and things to come but in a puppet he is holding. His imagination is awakening within himself, now. For the others, it is externalised and projected into the future.
The only other figure is a dog lying on the ground close to the boy, looking at us like the god.
Lenten Reflections 2021