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Aren’t these two of the kind of experiences which we can’t create or control but only undergo and, to some extent, perhaps, share with others whom we trust?   By sharing I don’t mean we can really describe or explain them because, as soon as we try, we sound nonsensical. If you are going to speak meaningful nonsense to someone you first need to feel trust.
First, the sense of sheer wonder that the world exists and that we exist as part of it. It is wonder without the judgement that ‘I’m happy’ or ‘I am discontented’. Wonder does not even require we settle the question of why the world exists? Wonder is a pure response to what anything is in itself, without even comparing it with anything else. Childlike wonder, humbling and delightful at the same time.
Second is the conviction that everything will be OK, in the fullest sense of those two letters. Mother Julian clearly possessed it, when she said: ‘all will be well and every kind of thing will be well’. It can fill us even when appearances make us feel the exact opposite, that everything is doomed and will collapse into non-existence by tea-time.
When we play host to these experiences, we ‘feel better’ even though they don’t solve all our problems - except perhaps the big double-headed problem of despair and boredom. What makes us feel better, then, when we feel in a state of wonder and fundamental security? Whatever it is, it is like meditation – which doesn’t change external events in a magical way and at first doesn’t even numb us against the pain of uncertainty. But meditation is a quiet, gentle way of preparing us to welcome these two experiences and helping them become permanent guests and eventually co-residents in the house of being.
I trust you will forgive me if this sounds nonsense. When we think or speak about anything on the other side of language and thought we make nonsense. To make sense of it why not call the state of wonder and radical confidence ‘faith’. Belief, with which we usually confuse it, is influenced by faith; but faith itself is independent of belief. Faith is spiritual knowledge.
As we enter into the meaning of Holy Week and allow its central story to read us and show us our place in it, faith is the path we are following. We test and reset our beliefs against the experience of faith. Hiding behind faith is hope and secreted in hope is love. Like the eternal engine of God, these three are one.
From the first century of the Christian era St Ignatius of Antioch reminds every seeker today that
                                               the beginning is faith, the end is love and the union of the two is God.
                                               Everything else follows on these and lead to perfect goodness.
Laurence Freeman 
Lenten Reflections 2024
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