John Main OSB, “Death and Resurrection,” MOMENT OF CHRIST (New York: Continuum, 1998), pp. 68-70.
The whole Christian tradition tells us . . .that if we would become wise we must learn the lesson that we have here “no abiding city”. . .But the principal fantasy of much worldliness operates out of completely the opposite point of view. . . The wisdom of our tradition… .is that awareness of our physical weakness enables us to see our own spiritual fragility too. There is a profound awareness in all of us, so profound indeed that it is often buried for much of the time, that we must make contact with the fullness of life and the source of life. We must make contact with the power of God and somehow open our own fragile “earthen vessels” to the eternal love of God. . . .
Meditation is a way of power because it is the way to understanding our own mortality. It is the way to get our own death into focus. It can do so because it is the way beyond our own mortality. It is the way beyond our own death to the resurrection, to a new and eternal life, the life that arises from our union with God. The essence of the Christian Gospel is that we are invited to this experience now, today. All of us are invited to death, to die to our own self-importance, our own selfishness, our own limitation. We are invited to die to our own exclusiveness. We are invited to all this because Jesus has died before us and has risen from the dead. Our invitation to die is also one to rise to new life, to community, to communion, to a full life without fear. I suppose it would be difficult to estimate what it is people fear most—death or resurrection. But in meditation we lose all our fear because we realize that death is death to fear and resurrection is rising to new life.
Every time we sit down to meditate we enter this axis of death and resurrection. We do so because in our meditation we go beyond our own life and all the limitations of our own life into the mystery of God. We discover, each of us from our own experience, that the mystery of God is the mystery of love, infinite love—love that casts out all fear. This is our resurrection, our rising to the full liberty that dawns on us once our own life and death and resurrection are in focus. Meditation is the great way of focusing our life on the eternal reality that is God, the eternal reality that is to be found in our own hearts. The discipline of saying the mantra, the discipline of the daily return morning and evening to meditation has this one supreme aim—to focus us totally on Christ with an acuity of vision that sees ourselves, all reality, as it is. Listen to St Paul writing to the Romans:
No one of us lives, and equally no one of us dies, for himself alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. Whether, therefore, we live or die, we are the Lord’s.
Meditate for Thirty Minutes.... Remember: Sit down. Sit still and upright. Close your eyes lightly. Sit relaxed but alert. Silently, interiorly, begin to say a single word. We recommend the prayer-phrase "Maranatha." Recite it as four syllables of equal length. Listen to it as you say it, gently, but continuously. Do not think or imagine anything—spiritual or otherwise. Thoughts and images will likely come, but let them pass. Just keep returning your attention—with humility and simplicity—to saying your word in faith, from the beginning to the end of your meditation.
After Meditation, from W.S. Merwin, “The String.” In THE RIVER SOUND (New York: Knoph, 1999), p. 133.
Night the black bead
a strong running through it
with the sound of a breath
lights are still there from
long ago when
they were not seen
in the morning
it was explained
to me that the one
we call the morning star
and the evening
star are the same.
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