Gospel John 5:1-3,5-16. ‘Do you want to be well again?’
Jesus asks many questions. Like all true teachers his intention is not to give people answers but to help the student discover truth for themselves. ‘In your own experience’ as John Main often said. A question has revelatory power. Perceval in the Legend of the Holy Grain fails, through immaturity and self-doubt, to ask the wounded king the question that would heal him and the ailing land: ‘what is the Grail and whom does it serve?’
Questions bravely asked or deeply heard can unexpectedly reveal the source of consciousness. If we look back on our lives, we might remember pivotal moments, often seeming completely ordinary at the time, that did this. We remember them because they lifted us to another level of consciousness. I will share a couple of those moments in my life to encourage you to identify similar ones in your life, if you have time for such frivolous things. When I was a schoolboy I was very interested in stamps. On my way home I would often stop to gaze longingly in a shop window displaying many packets and collections of stamps. One day a friend of the family passed and greeted me. The following day, as I was absorbed in the same window display, he passed me again, asking humorously ‘hello, Laurence, have you been standing here since yesterday?’ Pop.
Why should I remember that so vividly? The word ‘conscious’ is composed of two words: com (with) and scio (I know). To be conscious means to know with. We become more conscious when we meet someone who knows with us. If they know us better than we know ourselves we are intrigued to know ourselves with them. To be in the company of more conscious, more awakened people stimulates growth in consciousness. To meditate together is to know with. Another moment for me, when I was a student, happened while standing in Pall Mall in central London having just had lunch with John Main. We were saying goodbye as he was returning soon to the US. We shook hands. Pop. Another one just popped into my head. After I had started working in the City I would often go to early morning mass and walk from the church to the station in the state of Eucharistic communion that Christians know. One ordinary day, at the bottom of the hill, again: Pop. Why these moments and not other more dramatic experiences, I do not know.
Consciousness is about connection and mutual understanding. It is the secret of Jesus and his Father and the nature of God as Being in Communion.  It’s the same always and everywhere, so it can pop anytime.
We take particular times, like Lent or a special celebration or our daily meditation sessions to do the work necessary to grow gradually in consciousness and in receptivity to this reality. Only our ego blocks us from knowing-with all the time. Whenever the ego slips, for whatever reason or for however long, there is a pop.
Laurence Freeman
Lenten Reflections 2021