Acclaimed clinical psychologist Jordan B Peterson draws from biblical stories in his book 12 Rules for Life, claiming that they are sources of greatest wisdom in the West. I also draw from the Bible in this reflection to highlight the importance of what I call ‘meditative joy’.
The story goes that two Mary’s – Mary Magdalen and Mary the mother of James – see an angel at the tomb of Jesus. They are told that Jesus is risen and to go and tell the disciples where to go so that he will see them soon. On their way Jesus meets the women. They are humbled by his presence and bow down before him. In my imagination, he helps them up from the ground, comforts them, is affectionate with them, walks with them and then repeats what the angel has said. They go forth filled with the Holy Spirit.
I learned the following from meditating on this story:
1. Jesus encourages the women to go deeper
Jesus believes in their capacity to be resilient, to be confident and to enter a deeper level of meditative joy. I imagine that the younger one has a fresh complexion on her face and the older one is equally startled. Jesus does not necessarily point to an external exclamation but rather, in line with my own research, to a heart that is strumming with praise and the deepest anchoring of Spirit. They are encouraged to be ‘more’ and to open up to new life.
2. They experience meditative joy and encourage the disciples
They are able to transcend a surface level of fear to inhabit what Jesus has called them to. They delight in going deeper for this is what gives meaning to their lives – a felt sense of the presence of Jesus – and they begin to believe in this everyday reality. I imagine that they are not scared of the disciples’ mixed reactions to the Good News. They represent Jesus by encouraging them to also enter into this deeper level, nudging them to fullness of life.
3. We can all go deeper, no matter the circumstance
The biblical story reminds us that we all have the capacity for meditative joy. I try to pause at junctures in my day and therefore try to prevent getting caught up with work tasks. I try to catch my thoughts racing and focus on my breath. Or I silently repeat the word “Jesus” (perhaps you have another word) to myself when around a person who ‘loves’ to argue. I don’t necessarily have to leave the situation for I see the big picture. I stop reacting and am more centred, confident and compassionate.
4. We can smile and encourage others
One of the most beautiful things in life is a sense of humour. Perhaps we can laugh to ourselves when a difficult person tries to derail us. Perhaps we can laugh at our own edginess. Moreover, we can plant seeds of goodness wherever we go. We can encourage meditative joy by being real, honest, true. We can share what we perceive to be the Good News – an inspirational moment, a triumph of humanity. We can set the world on fire!