Friday Lent week 1

Come to terms with your opponent in good time ( Mt 5:25)

Time is the problem but it also holds the solution. The question is always what is ‘good time’ and how long does it take?

Perhaps the ambiguous nature of time is why it is so easy for us to postpone the necessary and deny the inevitable. We think there will always be more time to do what we have to do. Then we realise at the last moment, when it is too late because time is running out, that we can no longer reconcile with our opponents

 or heal the conflicts within ourselves or with those manifestations of our inner conflicts projected into our relationships with others. Then we can only dive deeper than time into the ground of being, the great depths of the present moment. There is healing there in the source of our being. But much suffering could have been avoided if we had done it in good time..

As I write this Syrian government troops are again repeating a motif in human history the slaughter of the innocent and the destruction of homes, childhoods and hopes. The time is not good. But even if we know that the lust for shedding blood must expend itself and a ‘settlement’ will eventually be reached, the impression left by such conflict is virtually indelible. Even for those yet unborn life will be harder as  a result. 

We plan the easy things and avoid the hard ones. We forget how to measure time against the yardstick of reality.

In some old images of St Benedict he is shown holding the Rule in one hand and a stick of some kind in the other. Some say it is the stick necessary to punish infringements of the rule. I prefer to see it as a measuring rod, like a conductor’s baton, used to measure time. To measure anything there must be accepted limits, a beginning and an end. That is what the rule of the two periods of meditation each day is about.

Laurence Freeman OSB