Lent Daily Reflections 2013

Tuesday of Lent Week 4

I was talking to someone about another person who had offended her. She said ‘I can get on with her now alright. But I will never forgive her’. It was revealing: the ‘will never’, rather than ‘can’t ever’.

I was struck by the sense of defiance even of pride in that resolution never to forgive. It was as if she knew she had the ability to forgive, let go and move on. But, for whatever, reason she preferred to stay with the bittersweet chemistry of resentment and anger.

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Monday of Lent Week 4

Life is a story with many stories and people who love life like stories. It’s a bad sign when no story stirs, amuses or saddens you. John Main taught meditation simply because he wanted to share with others what he had found: the gift of meditation to vitalize us and lead us continuously to a fuller experience of life and its meaning.

He was a great storyteller. I can remember him telling this one to a meditation group one evening:

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Sunday of Lent Week 4

Fear and resentment are two of the most corrosive forces in the human heart. When we are in their grip we are convinced they are justified. Each wreaks their harm throughout all dimensions of our life because they grow, or fester, in the conviction that we are not loved simply for ourselves. We may know love, even be in love, but its light takes time penetrate to the darkest depths of our mind. Salvation, redemption, enlightenment, liberation - consist in the light of love dispelling all the remaining darkness.

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Saturday of Lent Week 3

An inexperienced gardener at this time of year in the northern hemisphere struggles against pruning the branches and hedges that are just beginning to bud. Cutting the branches back seems like an offence against the life-process  that is breaking into its new cycle; and there is the fear that you will stunt growth for the new season.

It needs a more experienced mentor to start the cutting and slicing on your behalf; and then, trusting him, you join in. Jesus liked to uses images of growth and expansion from the natural world to illustrate his teaching but he also spoke of the need for pruning the vine of life. 

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Friday of Lent Week 3

‘He instructed them to take nothing for the way beyond a stick. No bread, no pack, no money in their belts. They might wear sandals but not a second coat.’ I often think of this as I pack my second bag for a long flight and throw in books I won’t have time to read and all the many last minute ‘just in case’ items that defy common sense.

From the first traumatic separations of our human existence the psyche craves predictability, security and control. 

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Thursday of Lent Week 3

A friend who is expecting a baby in a few months had just come back radiant from her first scan. As she was leaving she saw a lemon on the kitchen counter and picked it up and said ‘it is this size now.’ It is still an it.

Great oaks from little acorns grow, naturally. But the idea of a baby – and all the changes it has begun to bring into the life of the family from conception. And all the expansion of life that is to come – the idea is different from the actual thing as it has developed up till now. 

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Wednesday of Lent Week 3

The human spirit yearns to breathe the air of liberty. We rankle under impositions and restrictions placed upon us by people or institutions, by parents, pharaohs or presidents. We defend our ancient liberties with great rhetoric. We bomb, torture and lie in the defence of freedom.

For many of us today  – especially Roman Catholics in the seedy limelight at the moment  - religious institutions and their leadership have failed to understand and witness to the essential meaning of liberty.

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Tuesday of Lent Week 3

“I have nothing, I want nothing, I know nothing.” The refrain of the medieval mystics might sound a touch negative to our ears and the personal pronoun perhaps suspiciously highlighted. Too much I in the assertion of no-self.

So: those who know do not speak and those who speak do not know. This is an old challenging wisdom. But not so practical. In Maximus the Confessor we are told there is a half-way place The person who knows has a short window of opportunity to speak while the experience is still fresh. 

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Monday of Lent Week 3

Small adjustments can make a big difference. Imagine the vast distances involved in a minor error in a spacecraft’s compass settings. Or the brief experiences in childhood that set a pattern for decades before their effect can be corrected.

So with the attitudinal settings with which we start the practice of meditation. Because some people have an allergy to all things religious, the physiological, psychological or pragmatic approach can seem best at the beginning. It is like the spacecraft being focused on the next planet in its path. ‘I’ll meditate in order to get these proven benefits.’ 

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Third Sunday of Lent

The world is worldly. But being worldly isn’t as exciting as it was. For the majority of people life is routine.

Even when life is driven by faithful love or a quest for truth or a passionate cause, no one can escape the humdrum. So, we escape a world that is repetititious and unchallenging by becoming voyeurs of the dramatic and sublime. We watch sport, action movies, hyper dramatic soaps. And we love royal weddings and papal funerals.

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