Posts Tagged ‘Thomas Merton’

Not really getting it … and that is ok.

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016

We want to get “it.”  To understand life.  To be able to possess and offer the deep insight.  The truth.

But we are flawed.

Caught in our story, shaped by culture, molded by certain prejudices, we are in the end human.

The humility right there I believe critically forms us if we choose it.

The wisdom we do possess “are outward guises, appearances, of what is true and good… but if our lives focus on what is doing what is good the Lord adjusts them toward genuine truth.” (NJHD 21)

Goodness and truth … in the end … ONE.

Our efforts … in the end … imperfect, flawed, beautiful in God’s eyes.

Thomas Merton captured it well…

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.” 

Part in Heaven. Now and Always.

Friday, December 11th, 2015

Part of you.  Part of me.  That part is in heaven. Now and always.

Many days cloud that simple truth.  And many days, if even for a blessed moment, reveal it.

From the author Thomas Merton…

March 19, 1958: “In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all these people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness … I have the immense joy of being man, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate….”

Emanuel Swedenborg captured the big picture simply and well. “The spiritual world is right where we are, not distanced from us in the least…. as far as the deeper levels of our minds are concerned we are all in that world, surrounded by angels.”  (Divine Love and Wisdom, 92)

We may not often see it.  Often hidden in fog.  But at other times … there.

 

Capturing a Bird In Flight

Friday, September 10th, 2010

Karl Barth wrote of the challenge of “capturing” the Christian experience.  Imagine drawing a bird in flight.  One has two choices.  Choice one is to “freeze” the bird’s motion and capture it as a still image. The other is to blurr the image to create the sense of movement.  The former is the danger of the conservative – believing that the only way to understand something is to freeze it as a set piece.  The latter is the danger of the liberal – believing the only way to understand something is in motion, nothing set, nothing clearly delineated.

Much of the Christian experience is in the letting go of this dualistic approach and simply observing the bird in flight as it is as.  There are times where the frozen motion is instructive.  There are times when the blurred image likewise is useful.  But the reality of the bird in flight is the bird in flight.

In a discussion yesterday with a dear friend, we talked of that search for clear understanding, for the ability to somehow hold it all.  That does not seem to be in the cards, regardless of our best efforts.  Restated, we fall easily into believing that we can definitively and finally capture a bird in flight on canvas – be that the ‘canvas’ of worship, music, sacrament etc….  Maybe the call is for us to simply experience the bird in flight, time and time again in the non-manufactured ways it will show itself.   Christian New Church theology is filled with many canvases as well as many areas where the author, Emanuel Swedenborg, simply reaches the limit of human understanding, using language about beauty that defies description – a bird in flight.

Maybe this is what Thomas Merton was addressing when he wrote …

Truth rises from the silence of being to the quiet, tremendous presence of the Word.  Then, sinking again into silence, the truth of words bears us down into the silence of God.  Or rather God rises out of the sea like a treasure in the waves, and when language recedes his brightness remains on the shore of our own being.