Lent Meditation four (Ven. Andrew Manning)
‘Somewhere between contented peace and always wanting more
Somewhere in the middle you’ll find me.’ (Mark Hall)
We live in a Capitalist society where wanting more is seen as admirable.
The whole Retail Culture is built on wanting to better oneself, to have more, and to own more, and to possess. It’s a culture built on discontent. It’s a culture built on performance. Be more, achieve more, better, and better every day.
St Francis and St Clare taught that the more we counter this culture the closer we get to Jesus. The more we surrender, the less we possess the freer and more content we are, the better our relationship with God and with each other will be. As soon as we own something we have to defend it, fight to keep it. Jesus said where you treasure is there your heart will also be. (Mt 6:21)
Status, power, possessions, all make us defensive and violent. The way of St Francis and St Clare is one where we follow Jesus in the path of humility and contentment. A willingness to be used in what ever way God requires of us. We reside between our desire for greatness and our surrender to ‘usefulness’ to God.
During lent we usually give something up, to assist us with this release from the power that things hold over us. Realising that we don’t need many of the things that we fill our lives with, is a journey towards contentment. It also increases gratitude for what we have. When you always want more, you cannot appreciate what you have. When you are content with what you have you value it, you appreciate it, and it grows in its worth for you.
In our Spiritual journey it is easy to fall into the trap of discontentment. In thinking that we are not good enough, not holy enough, not disciplined enough, not acceptable enough. We can become frustrated and discontent and unappreciative of God’s grace. We need surrender to contentment, and then we will grow deeper in love, deeper in joy deeper in peace. We need to find peace with who we are and where we are and then transcend that, through complete surrender to God. Release things that stand in the way of that contentment, seek forgiveness for that which stands in the way of joy that is ours in the present. If you are not at peace where you are, you won’t find it by adding things or shifting to different desires.
So, we seek the middle road of between the desire for more and the contentment and being at peace, appreciating what we have and what God has done to get us here. Content to receive more or to be happy with what we have, content to be more or stay as we are. Content to rest in the moment, be prepared to stay when God says stay and move when God says move. (Numbers 9:20)
The way of Jesus is a way of contentment to be where God places us. We choose to relinquish (repent of) the desire to gain more, be more, and we choose to be who we are, to the full. We focus on what is and not what is missing, lost, unachieved. Its countercultural, transformative and is the way of Jesus.
Somewhere between contented peace and always wanting more, somewhere in the middle you’ll find me. Teach me Lord to abide in you, Lord, to rest in your love and to be content.
Let us pray;
Lord, help me today to find peace with who I am in you and what I have in you and what I can do for you. Help me break the chains of desire for more, so that I can be more of who I am and less of who I think I should be. Teach me the way of surrender.
And then out of gratitude may I be at peace with my neighbour, may I serve you more and glorify you more and may you be everything to me.