While we were walking the beach together, my friend Tom explained to me that Sufis believe that if you want to know what qualities you possess, ask yourself what problems you have. That behind the everyday dramas of our life are qualities that are trying to manifest. He used as an example a situation where there was a lot of lying and back-biting going on. The quality that was trying to emerge is telling the truth. Perhaps fate has placed you in this difficult situation so you will be the one brave enough to speak the truth that has remained unspoken.
During our Lenten meditations this way of thinking certainly may bring new perspectives to our lives and our problems. Meditate not on the problem, but on the quality that is trying to be born. Let’s think of a few examples. You may feel that other people are taking advantage of you and that is a problem at your work or in your personal life. Instead of dwelling on the problem, focus on the quality that is trying to emerge. Perhaps it is courage to stand up to people who appear stronger than you or who are getting the best of you. Perhaps the quality is mastery and through meditation you strengthen that dimension in yourself that enables you to master the hold someone has on you.
Maybe your problem is the guilt you feel about damage you have done to another by deceiving them. The quality that is trying to emerge is your sense of honor. Instead of focusing on the damage you have done, focus on how good one feels when you act honorably. What can be done to restore that quality? Qualities can emerge from each of our problems. I believe during Lent sometimes we turn all of our attention to faults and problems in our lives, and ignore the qualities that need to emerge on Easter day. If we elect to meditate on the quality that is attempting to emerge from our problems, we just might emerge strengthened and our problems solved or at least, made a lot less overwhelming.