Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Thomas Merton

Thomas Merton Essential Writings
Christine M. Bochen

humm... what to say. Four parts to this book. 1 biography, 2 contemplation, 3 compassion (justice), 4 unity. All the sections were so relative to the place of the U.S. church. Merton didn't write very long ago but his writing did predate the current Terrorism terror/war.
We are a people of activism. Merton describes contemplation as true prayer where in silence we allow the true God to seek our true selves. He suggests that we do not often know our silent true self because we are activists acting out our religious activities trying to fill all silence and when loneliness and silence confront us, our true self is often not welcome. We are uncomfortable with it. But in this silence God speaks to our silent self.
Reading this section esspecially frustrated me because unless I am alone I don't feel like can access this silence to process what God is teaching me and I don't feel like any of us are able to go to that place of silence. I want all of us to learn from Psalm 46:10 to be still and seek/know God. This is important. We are too activistic. How do we got beyond that. Do we all need to be contemplative?
The third part of compassion included many of Mertons essays and poetry in reference to Auschwitz and how terribly normal and sane the people were who accomplished the atrochious deeds. Merton said that God isn't calling us to be sane at all but insane, not conforming, radicle, revolutionary, odd, silly, childlike, compassionate. We are not to blindly follow as the world leads but through the silence of contemplation to listen to God's silent voice and follow the shephard.
And the final section on unity is not to be confussed as pragmatism but as a loving and discerning ecuminism that in no way robs truth or creates a weaker all embrasing unitarian religion. Merton participated in dialogue across religious barriers including Sufism, Zen Buddhism, Hasidism Raja Yoga, and Tibetan Buddhism. May we see and may we seek truth in people all over the world. People are all made in the image of God, are they not?

Now for a prayer and a poem that I loved from this book:
"Merciful Lord, who prayed that we might be one, who died that we might be one, show us the true path to Unity. Bless, we beseech you, the sincere, devoted efforts of the Churches and their Shepherds, to come together in one. Bless above all and enlighten our own hearts to know and understand the power of silence, prayer, and fasting, so that we may more perfectly obey your hidden and mysterious will by which alone we can become truly one. For the glory of the Father, in the Word, through the Holy Spirit. Amen" (pg. 185)

"Life is on our side.
The silence and the Cross of which we know
are forces that cannot be defeated.
In silence and suffering,
in the heartbreaking effort to be honest
in the midst of dishonesty (mot of all our own dishonesty).
in all these is victory.
It is Christ in us who drives us through darkness
to a light of which we have no conception
and which can only be found
by passing through apparent despair.
Everything has to be tested.
All relationships have to be tried.
All loyalties have to pass through the fire.
Much has to be lost.
Much in us has to be killed,
even much that is best in us.
But Victory is certain.
The Resurrection is the only light,
and with that light there is no error."
(pg. 187)

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