Tuesday Lent Week 3

How often must I forgive my brother if he wrongs me? As often as seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘Not seven, I tell you, but seventy-seven times.

A: You always win. You always manage to get your way

B: That’s not how I see it. This hostility makes my life miserable too.

A: Well you deserve it. I’m glad.

B: Thank you. Who’s getting his way now?

A: See what I mean? You always turn things around and get people to see everything from your point of view.

B: Well if I do I don’t feel I am the winner. Anyway being the winner is lonely too. You make people jealous or angry if you think you won and they lost.

A: Poor you..

And on and on. And on. The cycle of resentment draws on a deep supply of dark energy that perpetuates the sense of being a victim or a born loser. To forgive those who wrong you is to escape from this self-destructive state of mind which paralyses the emotions and freezes rational thought. It breeds illusion and the only cure for illusion is to increase the daily dose of reality.

Almost everyone who is chronically unhappy feels that someone somewhere is or has been their enemy. This is the way out of the quagmire, to identify the enemy, look them in the eye, wherever they may be, blink and let them go.

The spiritual view of life takes account of both sin, the state of illusion and all its consequences and grace, the perpetual second chance. It focuses on redemption, liberation and healing as the life-giving and rejuvenating processes we should be committed to.

The desert is a great place to diagnose these negative states of mind. They rise naturally in the early stages of meditation. We have only to consistently prefer reality to illusion, to return to the mantra, in order to be free of the wrongs we feel have been done to us and start again -  this time further along the path that, despite appearances, we in fact never leave.

Laurence Freeman OSB