Friday, January 31, 2014

Thomas Merton

My shadow on the early morning beach.
Today is Thomas Merton's birthday.  Sister Alida, my 7th and 8th grade teacher, gave me his autobiography, Seven Storey Mountain.  It was over my head but I'm sure that it had something to do with my deciding to be a priest. That may be what she had in mind.  Many years later when I began doing centering prayer, I found out that the name of the prayer had come from one of his writings.  What he says in this letter to his brother captures some of what contemplation is about:
"Indeed we exist solely for this, to be the place God has chosen for his Presence.  If once we 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 message the contemplative offers you, then, brother, 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, 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."

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