First Sunday of Lent

PHOTO: LAURENCE FREEMAN
 
Mark 1: 12-15: He was among wild beasts,
and the angels ministered to him

A little girl looked at me once when I was wearing my white habit and asked me ‘are you an angel?’ When questions arise from a pure place – even if it is the mytho-magical mind of a six year old - they have an authentic force. When that period of development passes the same questions become regressive or silly. So, to look around for traces of angels’ feathers or imagine they are hovering behind you as in cartoons is missing the point. But it is a sad person who has never recognised the ministry of angels.

I don’t know what angels really are. Perhaps they are autonomous forces in the psyche, waves of benevolence and compassion radiating as if they were messengers sent from the divine source of love and meeting us in our loneliest times of distress. Jesus was cared for after exhausted by what he passed through in the ‘forty days’ in the desert. He had confronted the dark forces of his ego, urging him to power, self-sufficiency and pride. He had seen through them and did not succumb to the temptation to give up the struggle to be real, to stay real, and to deny the easy allurements of illusion. But that can be exhausting at times and like any human being he needed to be ministered to.

Where do we find this ministry of spiritual friendship and accompaniment in our own lives? Not perhaps in hosts of angels flying down from above but in the sharing of the pilgrimage ever deeper into the realm of the real. Although the commitment to reality – which is also what our daily meditation signifies - demands solitude it also opens up to community. The people we meet in the desert of our solitude are real friends. We recognise each other, value each other but also know we cannot possess each other because the pilgrimage is even into a dispossession of our own selves.

 
With love
Laurence
 
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