John the Baptist was a wild man. He felt drawn to the wilderness. He was himself there. “I am a voice crying in the wilderness.’ It was where he felt at home, with his locusts and wild honey, rather than in the best restaurants and hotels.
Yet the people flocked to him and he exerted a phenomenal influence over the people of power. Free of attachments and undisturbed by the temptations of security that most people succumb to, he had a passion for the truth and for telling it as it is. In the end, falling foul of the king, he paid the ultimate price that many prophets have had to pay, his own life.
Advent is not only about waiting for something to happen. It is about waiting in hope and living in the truth of the moment, with every breath breathing the truth. It is about being uncompromising about the small compromises and the politically motivated exceptions with the truth that chip away at our integrity.
Meditation is a kind of wilderness, where only the truth can exist. Our practice teaches us to live there happily, to make it our home with all its simplicity and no necessary furniture. Then it blooms with the love that truth serves and we find we are solitary but not alone, ourselves but not merely isolated egos trying to survive and defend. We flourish with the brave freedom of the Baptist who knew he was in service of something greater than himself. If we know that, then no price is too great to pay.
Laurence Freeman OSB