On Contemplation


This really struck me as I was reading it. The message is for all who aspire to "higher" or "deeper" prayer. I think of this as the transformation Jesus promised Nicodemus who came in the night--"Ye must be born again."

A Letter to Pope Paul VI
Thomas Merton

God seeks Himself in us, and the aridity and sorrow of our heart is the sorrow of God who is not known to us, who cannot yet find Himself in us because we do not dare to believe or trust the incredible truth that He could live in us, and live there out of choice, out of preference. But indeed we exist solely for this, to be the place He has chosen for His presence, His manifestation in the world, His epiphany. But we make all this dark and inglorious because we fail to believe it, we refuse to believe it. It is not that we hate God, rather that we hate ourselves, despair of ourselves. If we once began to recognize, humbly but truly, the real value of our own self, we would see that this value was the sign of God in our being, the signature of God upon our being.

The contemplative is not the man who has fiery visions of the cherubim carrying God on their imagined chariot, but simply he who has risked his mind in the desert beyond language and beyond ideas where God is encountered in the nakedness of pure trust, that is to say in the surrender of our own poverty and incompleteness in order no longer to clench our minds in a cramp upon themselves, as if thinking made us exist. The message of hope the contemplative offers you, then is not that you need to find your way through the jungle of language and problems that today surround God; but that whether you understand or not, God loves you, is present to you, lives in you, dwells in you, calls you, saves you, and offers you an understanding and light which are like nothing you ever found in books or heard in sermons. The contemplative has nothing to tell you except to reassure you and say that if you dare to penetrate your own silence and dare to advance without fear into the solitude of your own heart, and risk sharing that solitude with the lonely other who seeks God through you and with you, then you will truly recover the light and the capacity to understand what is beyond words and beyond explanation because it is too close to be explained: it is the intimate union in the depths of your own heart, of God's spirit and your own secret inmost self, so that you and He are in all truth One Spirit.

Powerful imagery, powerful words. The sorrow and the longing in our hearts is the longing of God to find a dwelling place within us, when we are too small and cramped to believe that He would be willing to live within us. Oh Jesus, open the doors and raise high the gates, come through in your triumph, riding on a donkey, a kingly procession and prepare the dwelling place. Jesus meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto thine--the dwelling place of the Eternal God and King of the Universe, of His Sacrificed Son, savior of the world, and of the Holy Spirit who breathes life into faith and joy into hearts that are dead. Only having your heart can we have a dwelling place suitable for the Lord of All.

Bookmark and Share



About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on October 8, 2003 8:11 AM.

One Last Poem-Walter de la Mare-The Listeners was the previous entry in this blog.

On Confession is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

My Blogroll