Contemplation is no fantasy, make-believe, or daydream, but the flowering of patience and steady perseverance. There is a deep relationship between the inner revolution of true prayer and the transformation of social structures and social consciousness. Our hope lies in the fact that meditation is going to change the society that we live in, just as it has changed us. It is that kind of long-term thinking that God seems to be involved in and kindly invites us into the same patient process.
I know the situation in the world can seem quite dark today. The negative forces are very strong, and the progressive development of consciousness and love sometimes feels very weak. But the Great Turning is indeed happening, as people like Joanna Macy, David Korten, Byron Katie, and Thomas Berry believe and describe.
In his Letter to the Romans, Paul has a marvelous line: “Where sin increases, grace abounds all the more” (5:20). In so many places, there are signs of the Holy Spirit working at all levels of society, almost in tandem with the emergence of unbelievable violence, fear, and hatred all over the world.
It seems to me that true progress, or the hope that we have, is not naively optimistic, a straight line, or without regression. Spiritual progress, ironically, develops through tragedy and through falling. As C. G. Jung said, “Where we stumble and fall is where we find pure gold,” the gold of the Gospels, the hidden gold of our own souls, and then the beautiful soul of the whole creation.