Tuesday 5th Week Lent 

PHOTO: LAURENCE FREEMAN

Jn 8:21-30:  I do not belong to this world

It depends what we mean by ‘belong’, but perhaps no one truly feels they really belong to this world even if we cling to it, make it serve us and try to get it to accept us.

Some years ago I met a politician in transition. She (let’s say) had sat high up in the realms of power and pulled and controlled many levers. He (let’s say) had by no means lost all his idealism in the process but he was finely tuned to the realities of politics as the art of the possible. He was a survivor and the more he survived the more ambitious he became. Survival was equivalent to success and even if the successes were short-lived they built up into an addiction. Then her term finished and she was in the no-man’s land of politics in which no career had last long, without profile, responsibility or contact with the burning issues of the day.

This politician had pause for thought even as the experience of being ‘out of power’ generated new hopes and strategies about how to re-enter the stadium.  This pause is similar to the opportunity MBA students have in the break in their careers when they study to make themselves more valuable commodities but also reflect on the meaning of their life and work.

This necessary detachment from the market forces of power and egotism can, however, be cultivated even while engaging with those forces. We call this cultivation of detachment, which allows us to see and relate to the world as it is, ‘regular meditation’. Learning how to meditate regularly is what we call the ascetism, spiritual practice or discipline.

Lent is firstly about remembering that we need such a discipline in our lives, because the world as we see it doesn’t exist any more than do permanent success or immortality. We relate to the real world as soon as we can say ‘I do not belong to this world’. Only then we may have something useful to give to the world and serve others in the games of thrones.
 
With love
Laurence
 
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