To Reconcile and Restore

mertonFrom Gordon Oyer’s paraphrase of how Thomas Merton would answer the question “What and where is this Word of God?:”

The word of God is a breakthrough into our real, human experience, and it speaks not just from the Bible but from deep within us, within each of our neighbors, within all of creation. It offers us the means to tear down the false identities we have constructed to fit in with a society rooted in ego-centric self-interest. If we choose to engage it, this word engages us with questions about who we really are, about what person it is who seeks dialogue with the word. If we continue to engage its questions, the word of God will ultimately reconcile and restore us to our true self, to the human community, and to the great and mysterious ground of all being from which our core essence originated.

Standing on Our Own Feet

MertonBy Tommy Airey

It takes more courage to examine the dark corners of your own soul than to be a soldier on the battlefield.
Cornel West

45 years ago, Jim Douglass wrote a little book called Resistance and Contemplation (1972), urging radical disciples to take seriously both the personal and political–what he called “the yin and the yang of the Movement.” In the second chapter, he recounts the last talk that Thomas Merton (photo right) gave, just hours before his death from electrocution in that Bangkok bathtub in 1968. Merton told the story of Tibetan Buddhist monks being driven out of their homeland by Communist revolutionaries. The elder monk tells the fretting younger protege, “From now on, Brother, everybody stands on his own feet.” Continue reading “Standing on Our Own Feet”

Thomas Merton

merton 2The heart of man can be full of so much pain, even when things are
exteriorly “all right”. It becomes all the more difficult because
today we are used to thinking that there are explanations for
everything. But there is no explanation of most of what goes on in our own hearts, and we cannot account for it all. No use resorting to the kind of mental tranquilizers that even religious explanations
sometimes offer. Faith must be deeper than that, rooted in the unknown and in the abyss of darkness that is the ground of our being. No use teasing the darkness to try to make answers grow out of it. But if we learn how to have a deep inner patience, things solve themselves, or God solves them if you prefer: but do not expect to see how. Just learn to wait, and do what you can and help other people. Often it is in helping someone else we find the best way to bear our own trouble.
— Thomas Merton from his Christmas letter, 1966

The Time is the Time of No Room Raids on the Unspeakable

merton-pbsBy Thomas Merton (+December 10+)

We live in the time of no room, which is the time of the end. The time when everyone is obsessed with lack of time, lack of space, with saving time, conquering space, projecting into time and space the anguish produced within them by the technological furies of size, volume, quantity, speed, number, price, power and acceleration. Continue reading “The Time is the Time of No Room Raids on the Unspeakable”

Apostolic Work

thomas mertonDo not depend on the hope of results. When you are doing the sort of work you have taken on, essentially an apostolic work, you may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all,if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself. And there too a great deal has to be gone through, as gradually you struggle less and less for an idea and more and more for specific people. The range tends to narrow down, but it get much more real. In the end, it is the reality of personal relationships that save everything.

– Thomas Merton


From New Seeds Of Contemplation by Thomas Merton (1961)

Contemplation is the highest expression of man’s intellectual and spiritual life. It is that life itself, fully awake, fully active, fully aware that it is alive. It is spiritual wonder. It is spontaneous awe at the sacredness of life, of being. It is gratitude for life, for awareness and for being. It is a vivid realization of the fact that life and being in us proceed from an invisible, transcendent and infinitely abundant Source. Contemplation is, above all, awareness of the reality of that Source.