Tag Archives: Contemplation

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.

The old turns to the new; we fall but upward.

It is through struggle and question that we’re grown; it is God’s presence in the wrestling that we find as our greatest consolation.

This gift is only discovered when the old desire to win, to stand out, or make a name for ourselves fades away. The old turns to the new; we fall but upward.

The early desires are a part of the human experience, a natural lean. They’re the foundational, security building hierarchy of needs sorts of things; we’ll scratch and dig all night for them.

But then the dawn comes and we realize that getting to the gold of China is futile with our fingernails, so we sit up, look across the rim of the hole we’re in, and see the first rays of the Morning Sun.

We pause and watch. This moment has a restful, simple eternal feel to it.

With each inclining degree of light, our questions and our strivings shift. Personal security and personal name no longer preoccupy; instead, we feel a simple warmth to pour into the lives of others, and a freedom to fade, as the sun will also do later in the day, across the western horizon. There to go, there to go.

It’s this awakening of time that Rohr is speaks about, this coming to, or being awakened, to a life that has questions and pursuits (these have been worked at for years). Answers have come but then their paradox follows; a volley like this bats across the years.

More than a question is suffering and struggle. As we carry the scars that come along in our time, our demand for answers fades, replaced by the soul’s desire to just be with God who becomes our consolation more than any gift he could send. It is God alone we come to desire; it is God alone we desire to share.

 

[Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life by Richard Rohr (Book Reaction)]

 

New Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton [Book Reaction]

What did I hope to discover when I opened New Seeds of Contemplation? – I hoped to hear a word of wisdom, something from Merton that was infused in his walk, that might inform my own.

The most affective quote from the book:

When humility delivers a man from attachment to his own works and his own reputation, he discovers that perfect joy is possible only when we have completely forgotten ourselves. And it is only when we pay no more attention to our own deeds and our own reputation and our own excellence that we are at last completely free to serve God in perfection for his own sake alone. (58)

This thought and action is at the heart of everything else Merton wrote in New Seeds; everything else was a step in practicing self-forgetfulness. Not self-debasement or self-destruction, but a revelation that your true self can only be discovered when you lay aside your ego (or rather, the Spirit of God cultivates a new, living life in its place).

This letting go of your ego, your agenda, and the agenda of the current time and culture (e.g. things that clash with Jesus) is the heart and soul of spiritual formation, or as Merton phrases it: Contemplation – life lived in uninhibited union with God, his will in us, for us, and breathed out in our motions.

In order to “get there,” Merton provides a strong point:

“Everyone of us forms an idea of Christ that is limited and incomplete. It is cut according to our own measure. We tend to create for ourselves a Christ in our own image, a projection of our own aspirations, desires and ideals. We find in him but we want to find. We make him not only the incarnation of God but also the incarnation of the things we and our society and our part of society happen to live for.

Therefore, although it is true that perfection consists imitating Christ and reproducing him in our own lives, it is not enough merely to imitate the Christ we have in our imaginations.

We read the Gospels not merely to get a picture or an idea of Christ but to enter in and pass through the words of revelation to establish, by faith, the vital contact with the Christ who dwells in our souls as God.” (156)

This is life. This is “contemplation.” The Gospels and the things in our lives that cause remembrance of Jesus are the seeds of this new life. We must learn the art of cultivation.