[The new holiness] allows us a glimpse into the process of reform unfolding within the collapse of the old structures. It builds confidence to deal with the massing powers of darkness because we see not only their capacity for havoc but their intrinsic superficiality and falseness: the brazen denial of truth, the eye-for-eye, tooth-for-tooth politics that undermines justice, the deceitfulness of the gospel of prosperity that blasphemes against the Holy One.
What allows us to commit to the way of truth and renew the gift of self? How do we start any good work and prevent the ego from hijacking it? By discovering the true nature of love. We cannot find this without going into the desert of solitude, renouncing possessiveness and triumphing over the demon of loneliness. Over time this is the work of contemplation, leading us through failure into humility. . . . .. Meditation restores the wisdom we have lost of the link between ascesis – training in the discipline of selfless attention – and love. This is the lost chord in the music of humanity we have continuously to recover. Quite simply and directly, learning to meditate teaches that to find we need to lose.
To know the truth that sets us free from illusion we need to see ourselves in others and others in ourselves. Jesus insists there is nothing to fear in this. Rumi saw it too when he wrote “In the ruin of heartbreak you find the diamond of divine passion that can resurrect the dead.”
After meditation: “Vespers” by Louise Gluck in BEFORE THE DOOR OF GOD: An Anthology of Devotional Poetry, ed. Hopler and Johnson (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013), p. 348.
I know what you planned, what you meant to do, teaching me
to love the world, making it impossible
to turn away completely, to shut it out completely ever again—
it is everywhere; when I close my eyes,
birdsong, scent of lilac in early spring, scent of summer roses:
you mean to take it away, each flower, each connection with earth—
why would you wound me, why would you want me
desolate in the end, unless you wanted me so starved for hope
I would refuse to see that finally
nothing was left to me, and would believe instead
in the end you were left to me.