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Tag Archives: Thomas Merton

The Will for Reconciliation

Thomas Merton wrote many letters, essays, and poetry and seemed prescient about issues . Long before it was relevant, he spoke about challenges we might encounter in an increasingly technological and consumerist world.

I chose a passage from East & West. The Foreign Prefaces of Thomas Merton, and not a poem. He speaks about reconciling, coming together through forces including the power of love, understanding and compassion for one another, and being selfless as we coöperate in shared action.

Too often, humans understand the world in binaries: right or wrong, true or false, black or white, male or female, etc. Polticians and pseudo-politicians exploit binaries and divide us. They divide us based on race, skin colour, religion, gender, etc. When we fall victim to false narratives, we are incapable and unwilling to create, to build, and to forgive.

It is on the ground of something better and higher than politics that we discover we do good for each other. Thomas Merton’s message was not naïve. Love and mercy are the foundation, but not the solution to political problems.

“It is true, political problems are not solved by love and mercy. But the world of politics is not the only world, and unless political decisions rest on a foundation of something better and higher than politics, they can never do any real good for men. When a country has to be rebuilt after war, the passions and energies of war [and a divisive election] are no longer enough. There must be a new force, the power of love, the power of understanding and human compassion, the strength of selflessness and coöperation, and the creative dynamism of the will to live and to build, and the will to forgive. The will for reconciliation.”

Prayer of St. Francis

Kathy and I celebrate our 40th anniversary this weekend and we are on our way to Alaska. We used The Prayer of St. Francis (Peace Prayer) as a reading for our wedding mass. As well, we have an inexpensive plaque that sits on a dresser in our bedroom. My mother gave it to us many years ago. When we celebrated my mother’s funeral mass a year ago, we read the prayer, as well.

When I was in Spokane for extended periods, I posted a copy of the prayer on my bedroom wall. It serves as a daily reminder of what we are capable of as humans in relationship with one another. the world, and God in our moment-to-moment living.

The prayer is about the travails and their rewards that we undertake. When I think about love, I recall Thomas Merton‘s saying we call it falling in love for a reason. We open ourselves, risk being hurt, and the rewards are worthwhile. We mind, care, and attend to people and things.

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, the truth;
Where there is doubt, the faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled, as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

I am unsure what access to the Internet is like on a cruise ship. I heard it is not good. That means I might be off-line for a week or so.

Love’s Exquisite Freedom

When we love others, things, and places, there is freedom that comes with the constraints that love places on us. Maya Angelou provides a rich, poetic description of how love arrives and frees us.

Love arrives with histories and memories of pleasure and pain. Thomas Merton advised that we call it falling in love, because there are times it can hurt. Despite the possibility of pain, love calls us in ways that give us courage to overcome the risk and we are free to choose love. There is something in that person, that thing, and that place that call and hold us in that relationship.

Wendell Berry writes about affection for people, places, and living. It takes courage to step out and say, “I love this person, this place, and this way of living.” In saying that, what if the other rejects me or their love or that love is taken from me?

We, unaccustomed to courage

exiles from delight

live coiled in shells of loneliness

until love leaves its high holy temple

and comes into our sight

to liberate us into life.

Love arrives

and in its train come ecstasies

old memories of pleasure

ancient histories of pain.

Yet if we are bold,

love strikes away the chains of fear

from our souls.

We are weaned from our timidity

In the flush of love’s light

we dare be brave

And suddenly we see

that love costs all we are

and will ever be.

Yet it is only love

which sets us free.

 

Photography Quote of the Day

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” ― Lao Tzu To Download free inspiration and life quotes on nature photos please visit: Pi Photography and Fine Art

Source: Photography Quote of the Day

When I think about times that I have felt strong, it has been when I felt deeply loved by someone. At our wedding, I stood up as the procession song began and I shook. When I turned and saw Kathy, I was calm. Perhaps, her love found its way up the aisle of the church that day.

When I think about times that I had courage, it is because I loved someone deeply. As parents and grandparents, we feel that unconditional love and it gives us courage act in ways that seem out of character. On Friday night, while babysitting our grandson, him and I ran around the basement laughing and chasing each other. I had the courage to do things I had not done for years in a safe and private setting.

Thomas Merton wrote that we call it falling in love, because we open ourselves to the risk of being hurt. What if the love is not returned? Love that gives strength and courage is not something that is fleeting and superficial. It runs deep, coursing through our veins and between people. Love helps us remain mindful, attentive, and sensitive to others who are in our lives. More importantly love is felt by others who are not immediately present.

Love Does That

I have not used Meister Eckhart in my writing and what little I know about his work comes indirectly through reading others such as Thomas Merton and Richard Rohr.

His poetry follows the mystical line of his other writing, exploring spiritual questions that are challenging to explore. The monk in the poem is a whisperer who for a few moments lifts the worries from the little burro. He shares a pear, rubs her/his ears, looks into his/her eyes as if the he might see the burro’s soul, and offers kindness to the burro.

How often do we find ourselves worrying about things that only bother us? How tired we feel in those times. Sometimes, we pause and lift the burdens that weigh down our minds and spirits. Other times, we have our whisperers who share love with us and help lift life’s burdens. Similar to the burro, we are free to laugh, even for a few seconds. Love is the balm for our tired spirits.

All day long a little burro labors, sometimes
with heavy loads on her back and sometimes just with worries
about things that bother only
burros.
And worries, as we know, can be more exhausting
than physical labor.
Once in a while a kind monk comes
to her stable and brings
a pear, but more
than that,
he looks into the burro’s eyes and touches her ears
and for a few seconds the burro is free
and even seems to laugh,
because love does
that.
Love frees.

Freedom…

Life in itself is an empty canvas, it becomes whatsoever you paint on it. You can paint misery, you can paint bliss. This freedom is your glory.                ~ ` ~  Osho &nbs…

Source: Freedom…

There are series of pictures and quotes in this post about freedom. Life happens to us and there is no question of that. When we have freedom, we respond to what happens.

Others’ freedom depend on our love in ways that they know they are free. Love does not place conditions. Thomas Merton argued we call it falling in love because we open up, make ourselves vulnerable, and risk being hurt. The opposite is also true. When the love is returned without condition to us, it is a great gift.

With the gifts of love and freedom intertwined, we fly with the wings we receive. We attend to and mind the others in our lives and even those we do not meet. Love and freedom resonate beyond our horizons.

Freedom to choose

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space there is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom. ~Viktor Frankl Sometimes we make decisions in t…

Source: Freedom to choose

Viktor Frankl was a psychiatrist and neurologist who developed a school of psychiatry called logotherapy which is the search for meaning in life. He used his experiences as a Holocaust survivor to help inform his findings.

Humans choose their responses and seek life’s meaning. When we lose our meaning in life, we drift, feeling rudderless and without mooring. What keeps us grounded is the choices we make in life and the meaning we find in life. For example, becoming a teacher, a farmer, a parent, etc. gives life purpose and calls us to take action.

We express who we are through responding to the continuous calling, the vocation, that we find through various meaningful roles. When and if we find our life’s meaning, it allows us to make a difference in the world, for other sentient beings, and for the non-sentient elements of the world. We care for all aspects of the world and feel connected to it

Thomas Merton suggested some humans find there calling and others search throughout life, unable to find it. Perhaps, it is they do not hear what calls them and are unable to respond. Mindfulness and silence open spaces to hear the calls that give our lives meaning and make living meaningful.

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