Pilgrim Progress

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Here I am, another Sunday, another sacred space of faith and spiritual journey, more memories and reflections. There are times I don’t want to understand the course of our actions that affect other people similar to a “butterfly effect.” Still, … Continue reading

Waiting in silence

"In the Dark" ~ Thanksgiving 2014

“In the Dark” ~ Thanksgiving 2014

The true contemplative is
not one who prepares his mind
for a particular message that he
wants or expects to hear,
but is one who remains empty
because he knows that he can never
expect to anticipate the words
that will transform his
darkness into light.
He does not demand
light instead of darkness.
He waits on the Word of God
in silence,
and when he is “answered,”
it is not so much by a word
that burst into his silence.
It is by his silence itself,
suddenly, inexplicably
revealing itself to him as
a word of great power,
full of the voice of God.
Thomas Merton from Dialogues with Silence
Source: Parabola Fall 2004 page 71

Waking from a dream.

thomas merton

In March in 1958, the famous Christian monk Thomas Merton suddenly awakened. He recorded it this way in his journal:

“Yesterday, in Louisville, at the corner of 4th and Walnut, suddenly realized that I loved all the people and that none of them were, or, could be totally alien to me. As if waking from a dream—the dream of my separateness, of the ‘special’ vocation to be different….Thank God! Thank God! I am only another member of the human race, like all the rest of them. I have the immense joy of being a man!….”

Imagine having a transcendental experience that all you feel is love, that all people are “beautiful” and that everything is light. The feeling of euphoria stays for the longest time. It feels good and it feels unreal at the same time. You wanted your old self again and yet how do you do it when you don’t even know how you came to this state of mind.  No, there is no hallucination. No, there is no mental illness.  It was more of a spiritual emergence.

To come back to your previous disposition before is a blessing. Thank God, indeed.

In The Quiet

Quiet of our beingIt is useless to try to make peace with ourselves by being pleased with everything we have done. In order to settle down in the quiet of our own being we must learn to be detached from the results of our own activity. We must withdraw ourselves, to some extent, from the effects that are beyond our control and be content with the good will and the work that are the quiet expression of our inner life. We must be content to live without watching ourselves live, to work without expecting any immediate reward, to love without an instantaneous satisfaction, and to exist without any special recognition….

To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything, is to succumb to the violence of our times.

~ Thomas Merton

How kind time is.

thomas merton
At Thomas Merton’s Grave

BY SPENCER REECE

We can never be with loss too long.
Behind the warped door that sticks,
the wood thrush calls to the monks,
pausing upon the stone crucifix,
singing: “I am marvelous alone!”
Thrash, thrash goes the hayfield:
rows of marrow and bone undone.
The horizon’s flashing fastens tight,
sealing the blue hills with vermilion.
Moss dyes a squirrel’s skull green.
The cemetery expands its borders—
little milky crosses grow like teeth.
How kind time is, altering space
so nothing stays wrong; and light,
more new light, always arrives.


Image from PBS

Welcome

The Master set out on a journey with one of his disciples.  At the outskirts of the village they ran into the governor, who, mistakenly thinking they had come to welcome him to the village, said, “You really didn’t have to go to all this trouble to welcome me.”

“You are mistaken, your highness,” said the disciple.  “We’re on a journey, but had we known you were coming we would have gone to even greater pains to welcome you.”

The Master did not say a word.  Toward evening he said, “Did you have to tell him that we had not come to welcome him?  Did you see how foolish he felt?”

“But had we not told him the truth, would we not have been guilty of deceiving him?”

“We would not have deceived him at all,” said the Master.  “He would have deceived himself.”

Anthony de Mello, SJ

 z crows

MORSEL: Our minds are like crows. They pick up everything that glitters, no matter how uncomfortable our nests get with all that metal in them. ~~Thomas Merton

The Insupportable Knowledge of Nothing

        Wisdom
~ Thomas Merton
 
It is essential to experience all the times and moods of one good place

It is essential to experience all the times and moods of one good place

 

I studied and it
taught me nothing.
I learned it and soon
forgot everything else. 
Having forgotten, I
was burdened with
knowledge. 
The insupportable
knowledge of nothing. 
How sweet my life
would be if I were
wise! 
Wisdom is well known
when it is no longer
seen or thought of. 
Only then is
understanding
bearable.
 
 

Pilgrim Progress Characters

John Bunyan’s main character is Christian who was stricken by spiritual crisis and set out on a pilgrimage to find salvation.  
In his journey he met an Evangelist, Obstinate, Pliable, Help, Wordly Wiseman, Hypocrisy, Discretion, Piety, Prudence, Charity, Faithful, Angels, Despair, Hopeful, Talkative, Contrite, and others.  But of course, Christian has a special guide that steers him to the right path. 
Strange names for these characters are present in the dynamics of being part of big group on a pilgrimage.  Strong characters that we all play a part with the hope that peace and healing will come our way.  Just like Christian, our deep faith and belief, we are guided by the Holy Spirit. 
It would be absurd to think that we are full of virtues just because we are on a spiritual quest.  However, we strive to see the goodness of one another.  Sure, disagreement can surface; that is the reality of it all.  
There seem to be more questions than answers when we pray along the way.  The force of evil will make sure that peace will be broken amongst us.  One has to be aware of this as it happens and not let it take over our will.  
As for me, I bear in mind the teaching of Thomas Merton on the journey of a pilgrim, that it is a time for solitude to deepen our love, faith and prayer. 
O 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 to please you.
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 make my journey alone.