Sometimes a person’s deep desire is sitting on the surface of their personality for everyone to see while they are so convinced it is hidden that they are barely aware of it themselves. Out of such sad absurdities are human tragedies made. Or, we build financial empires or surrender to shameful addictions as childish ways of running away from both our true selves and our false selves – indeed from every self we find.
Trying to cope with this, we should not underestimate how deep and widespread human suffering goes
It is not those who are well who need the doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the virtuous, but sinners to repentance. (Luke 5:32)
Any lack of authenticity in us breeds a corruption in the soul whose symptoms we need to recognise ourselves, whether fear, anger, sadness or false desire. We may blame others for playing on our guilt but we are also weakened, with every loss, by an inner sense of shame.
The sooner we expose all this the better and meditation exposes everything to the light from day one. Only when we begin to simplify do we really see that God is not an external judge and punisher but a healer and friend.
The metaphors may be flawed but they become real in our experience. Only in the discovery of the new inner continent of love does human shame and fear melt away into its own nothingness.
Lent, meditation develops that nerve, like beginning with a one-mile marathon.
Laurence Freeman OSB