SATURDAY OF LENT WEEK 5
In the myth of the Fisher King the young knight-in-training, Parsifal, is told that good knights should speak little and only ask necessary questions. Following this instruction unwisely he fails to take a great opportunity to question a maimed king who is the guardian of the Grail. He should have asked the Wounded King why he was suffering and why his kingdom had become an infertile wasteland. Parsifal spends years waiting for his second chance. After a long wandering he meets the king again, sitting in a frozen landscape fishing, looking at the reflection of his shroud in the stagnant water. Desolate, in a barren world of his own making, his wound fails to heal and its sickness seeps into all his kingdom.
This time the now wiser Parsifal asks what is the Grail and whom does it serve? The mortal spell on the king and the land is broken and health and vitality return.
As we prepare to enter Holy Week here at Bonnevaux we will be welcoming wandering knights and ladies for a retreat to reflect on the mysteries of the Passion and the Resurrection. Lent – and the unity it has taught us to feel with the suffering of Ukraine and human affliction everywhere – comes to its full purpose.
This ancient myth is a key to help us understand what the Christian world will be re-living. The retreat will also be online so you can join us in the cloud of the internet as well as in the cloud of unknowing.
Perhaps the first gift of this story as a key into the Easter mysteries is its stress upon the redemptive question. Parsifal has a destiny to heal the king (later revealed to be his own uncle) and so to restore greenness to the earth. However, his task is not fulfilled either by passive silence or merely by activity alone but by insight.
This wisdom is released by a question, which is itself not born just from curiosity. It is not superficial. It is the heart’s quest for truth - and so it is selfless, other-centred. The Cross is the great question mark hanging over the world. Its meaning cannot be put into words. But what if we humbly ask who is it for? Perhaps we will then see the Resurrection as the great exclamation mark revealing the life and purpose of everything.
Lenten Reflections 2022