Counting the days. Children do it when they look forward to something. Prisoners do it as they endure their incarceration. Spiritual pilgrims do it too – in a childlike way and because they are in love with freedom.
The countdown of Lent has started. It is an artificial means – feeling more natural because it is so ancient – for becoming clearer about time and about eternity that is no less here and now. It is, as someone called it, a taste of ‘tempiternity’, time shot through with a bright awareness of the sacred in the ordinary.
It takes time for the ordinary day-to-day mind to be conscious of the movement of change that meditation is steadily driving forward in our deepest being. This is why it doesn’t matter too much what we feel or don’t feel in our spiritual practice. Some days we see its meaning and are enthused. Other days it seems silly and a waste of time. It is the deeper, clearer consciousness, the pure heart, that tells the whole truth.
Whatever Lenten practice you have started, like mediation itself, it is not about being perfect or achieving success. Lets pluck that out of the equation from day one.
We all fail. Everyone starts, stops and starts again. All that matters is faithfulness, coming back. Faithfulness teaches discipline. Discipline frees us from the ego and takes us beyond ourselves into pure consciousness, pure innocence and, in the end, pure love.
Laurence Freeman OSB