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Reason 1: Why I meditate. . .

“We can’t be on this journey of meditation, without taking a stand, in whatever way we are able to, without taking a stand against oppression and injustice and cruelty and the destruction of law and justice.”  Laurence Freeman OSB.                                                         

You might be wondering how those of us who gather for meditation three evening each week are affected by the practice.  What do we experience in our 25 minutes of silence?  Does it make any difference in our lives? I’ve been asked those questions at various times over the last twenty-three years. They’re good questions. I suppose the underlying question is: “If I meditate twice a day, every day for a year, what will I get out of it in the end?” We live in a transactional society where we see things in terms of a “pay off.”

Father Laurence Freeman introduced me to Christian Meditation while I was serving three churches in north London. I paid him a visit after reading a book on Christian Meditation before I left Ohio for England. I expressed some frustration to him about how I had tried it, found myself troubled by mental distractions, and hadn’t seen any “pay off.” I remember two things about that visit with Fr. Laurence. He was very kind and told me to be patient. He directed me to the Meditatio Centre in central London where I would be able to sit in silence with others.

 What do I experience with my two twenty-five minute meditation sessions each day? Well, I don’t levitate. I don’t have profound visions, and I still find that I am sometimes distracted by things both consequential and inconsequential. Has it made any difference in my life? Decidedly so. Just gradually.                                                               

Fr. Laurence’s quote came by email as part of his daily Lenten reflections. The greatest change in my life has been in my still evolving passion for issues of social justice. Prior to beginning to meditate my view of the world was basically shaped by my ego. But gradually, over time, my perceptions have come from what Meister Eckhart called the “spark of the soul.” Each of us has that “spark of the soul” at our uncreated center. It was through the practice of meditation  that I came to recognize, that as Christians, the Spirit of Christ dwells in each of us – just like St. Paul said.

Meditation is not a way to escape from the problems of the world. Meditation allows us to see those problems with “the eye of the heart.” Fr. Laurence concluded his Ash Wednesday reflection with these words: “If you go to church as a way of escaping the problems we confront in our lives or in our society in order to create sort of an alternative fantasy world, then this cannot be really identified with the new way that Jesus opened up. It doesn’t mean that the work of meditation is less important. It means it is more important. It’s more central.”                    

That is just one of the reasons I continue the daily discipline of meditation.

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