Category Archives: Contemplation

Contemplative Prayer by Thomas Merton (a Book Review) [Meditation and Contemplation Explained!]

Merton provided words for what I was experiencing and what I wanted to nurture in the life of prayer. More than devotional stick-to-it-ive-ness, I felt and wanted to continue to feel drawn to simply be with God.

But, while my heart desired more than accountability or discipline, I’ve also known by experience that, for me, the sense of being aware of God’s presence often occurs within the frame of my disciplined life. When I am making space, clearing time, attentiveness to the God who is always present occurs more freely. The opposite happens when I slip out of disciplined rhythms or Continue reading

Thomas Merton on Balance and Sabbath

“The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its inmate violence. 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 violence. More than that, it is cooperation in violence. The frenzy of the activist neutralizes his work for peace. It destroys his own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of his own work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.”

– Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, (New York: Doubleday, 1965), p. 81

We Can Learn from All People (The Art of Spiritual Discernment)

A great development occurs in us all when we begin discerning who gives the right way and who gives the way that is dead.

“Watch their lives,” Jesus says.

Many have looked and sure enough – Jesus is right! Dead people speak dead advice. Living people speak life and vitality. We are learning from all people.

The hurdle is in coming to know what “living” means.

Yes: This development is a gift – we discover that we can learn from all people. We can respond with gratitude, even if we disagree.

Every day we’ll hear and see Continue reading

How Old is All that is?

I grew up in Southern Idaho, a mile and a half from a small, ancient volcano that had blown a hole in the side of itself. “Tens of thousands of years ago,” they said. Mother even decorated parts of our yard with ancient volcanic rock. And when we three boys dug around we’d swear we’d find dinosaur eggs – rocks that had to have been! They were shaped just like what you’d think. (Only the latter evidence here is suspect.)

Idaho: The Gem State. Southern Idaho: the place where Yellowstone’s hot spot used to be, millions of years ago they say.

There was also a road sign on Highway 25, one of those historical markers, that talked about Prehistoric Man and ancient fossils. You’d face north east when you’d read the sign, out toward “Hunt”, a desolate, ancient desert wilderness filled with sagebrush and antelope.

I remember thinking as a small boy

Continue reading

A Thin Violence in the Desire to Influence?

A Thin Violence in the Desire to Influence

The way is down, friends. This way to freedom.

What does it mean to “influence?” The dictionary reads: “…the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something.”

How do we look at it, at the process of influence? What’s our first visual image? Someone with charisma and someone with a little less than? Someone with a good answer and someone with a little less than? Someone with _______ and someone with a little less than?

Is it the “strong” making something happen in the “weak?”

But, friends, what is “strong?” What is Continue reading

The Bleak Winter Sun

The bleak winter sun
fights to display its light, its warmth
fighting through a soft layer of
middle-gray clouds.

They, like a mouse nest blanket
try to warm the earth,
taking the sun’s role
(a prideful move).

I watch down here,
down on this windy earth
and
experience the duvet of pride.

[This same rat's nest clogs my soul.]

I yell within,
“Move out of the way!”
(Repent!)
…nothing changes.

I measure:
Spring will come,
spring will come.
Things will be

made right, made new.