Friday after Ash Wednesday

The nine year old who waits behind, so eager to tell you he ran a mile ‘marathon’ in record time. The ninety year old who looks at those she loves without the energy to engage or respond and closes her eyes in exhaustion. The range and states of human consciousness are as vast as that of cultures and customs around the world. One day we are hungry for experience and achievement. The next we’ve lost it.

Fasting is for when the bridegroom is absent not when he is present, Jesus tells us in today’s gospel. But once again, opposites converge.

We want everything but equally we want to lose everything, to be unencumbered and free. This contradiction causes much grief and confusion until one day the penny drops. They are one and the same desire – or a need deeper than anything as obvious as a desire. Seeing this fulfils it and takes us beyond the orbit of desire and disappointment. Selfishness, cold detachment? Not so, because its test of authenticity is a love beyond the boundaries of attachment.

Learning to meditate begins with learning how to meditate. It is extraordinarily simple and the learning curve is coming to terms with this simplicity. It is more than about self-improvement or self- understanding. Simplicity projects us beyond these limited forms of knowledge and illuminates life as a pilgrimage. The journey is not self-analysis but self-transcendence but as John Main said it takes nerve to take the attention off yourself and to let go of what we think we have achieved.

Lent, meditation develops that nerve, like beginning with a one-mile marathon.Laurence Freeman OSB