If I had nothing else to do I would be content to visit classrooms and introduce children to meditation, then meditate with them and listen to their comments. But more than that: to watch and learn from their silent peace and happiness in touching the ‘mark’ of the kingdom within them and see their unselfconscious deepening of consciousness.
This would not, to coin a phrase, be sustainable or the best way to transmit to a new generation the awareness of their innate gift for contemplation. So we teach teachers hoping that this wisdom will embed itself in the culture of the school. But if you were ever to doubt the wisdom of meditation go into a classroom and meditate with the children.
During Lent don’t lose sight of the first of your three goals – of becoming more simple, more childlike. The adult nature of your problems and complicated life-situations may oppress you and convince you that your capacity for simplicity is long gone. You will then feel you have to wait for retirement and early senility to regain it. Actually that is wrong. Even in the midst of life’s anxieties, stresses, fears and doubts, this simplicity is accessible.
The weight of our worries can be so great – sickness, debt, painful relationships, failure, disappointment, addiction, loneliness, making stupid mistakes. Lump all these together and call them sin. But don’t use the word ‘sin’ as we usually think of it – breaking rules and deserving punishment, losing God’s (or the parish council’s) approval. Sin is (in Greek, literally) missing the mark – the mark that Gregory of Nyssa and the Pauline write said is always moving.
How do you hit a moving target? By moving at the same speed as it is moving and paying attention to it. Being in tandem with it. To do so we may think we have to speed up. In fact we need to slow down. We may think we have to understand and master the complexities of life. In fact we need to simplify the way we see them by taking some distance from them. Only then can the thorn be pulled out.
This is just what meditation does for us as we lay aside our thoughts, especially the thoughts of those painful things that become thorns in our flesh. It’s simple. Not easy. We can do it. But we cannot and do not do it alone.