Let’s recall the archetype of Lent we are being nourished by on this journey, which is the time Jesus spent fasting in the wilderness.
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God”
When you are truly attentive to something, fully absorbed in it, you are not distracted by anything as minor as not having eaten for forty days. To be fully absorbed in anything is a form of bliss. If on the other hand we are constantly snacking, consuming, digesting or spewing texts, twitters and emails we may well forget what a great sauce hunger is. I am not referring to the hunger for the necessities of life, which it is a scandal and shame that anyone should have to face. I mean the hunger for reality that our addictive consumption blocks and denies. The sign of over-consumption is a lack of compassion for the needs of others.
In a world of Brexit and Twitter politics the only certainty is uncertainty. This makes the financial masters of the universe tremble because growth depends on investment and risk is the great fear. So, this is the time to wonder if we have to turn every stone in our path into a loaf of bread and jam.
Life is growth and change. Tradition serves life, it doesn’t stifle it. Goals and objectives for growth need to be tempered and trained by the filaments of meaning and wisdom that connect us to our roots, both historically and spiritually. The ‘tempter’ breaks those filaments by awaking the perennial seeds of greed and lust. Soon we are running crazily around the desert, turning every stone into an unnecessary loaf of bread. We can’t consume them all, which frustrates us, but we have also lost the hunger for truth that makes bread meaningful and enjoyable.
If a country decides it has to go to war it should declare its war aims and stop when they are achieved. If the globalized world is aiming at economic growth it should declare its goals, how it can be distributed and its limits. Unlimited growth is cancer.
Moderation really cures. The middle way of the Buddha or St Benedict, the ‘narrow little path’ of Jesus that ‘leads to life’ is the journey. The hunger for reality also comprehends hunger for truth. As Orwell foresaw, and Goebbels proved, truth can be altered by manipulation. ‘Alternative facts’, or lies, can be thrown into the innocent eyes of any sincere statement. As espionage agents are said to discover after they have learned their craft of deception, it is soon hard to tell what side you are really serving.
When we feel the hunger for reality, we taste the word of God. Yesterday’s ash may have disappeared but the journey has begun. Each time we meditate we repeat Jesus’ response to the powers of self-deception.