Monday, June 30, 2008

Monday 30 June 2008

The month ends and the week begins with a new chapter in "New Seeds of Contemplation" - Solitude is Not Separation, by Thomas Merton.

Some people have perhaps become hermits with the thought that sanctity could only be attained by escape from other people. But the only justification for a life of deliberate solitude is the conviction that it will help you to love not only God but also other people. If you go into the desert merely to get away from people you dislike, you will find neither peace nor solitude; you will only isolate yourself with a tribe of devils.

It is so important to understand that we are who we are as God's people when we are drawn back to that which we are - God's people. We are no isolated faithful ones...we come to the fullness of our being as we are brought home again into the midst of others. Solitude has a way of helping us come back and be reattached and welcome the other. Again, Merton has a way of pressing the point so that it is shocking. Isolation as a move into a "tribe of devils" is a powerful image. For in such a tribe, no one is is a tribe of separation that is sustained by such separation and therefore misses the wonder and joy of what it is to be the community of God's people - saints...all of us.

Connection: When we breathe, we let out and we take in. Taking time to enter into moments of solitude within this day is a part the blessed cycle that includes taking time to enter into moments of relationship with others.

Holy Spirit and Power of Life, you bring us together and you give us space to walk alone. In all times, we are inspired to enter more boldly into the life you offer us. At times it is not as we would like and yet it carries us to new levels of experience that continue to shape the whole community of saints. Amen.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Friday 27 June 2008

Today we end the week with a piece that follows up on the one who is self-satisfied or as Merton puts it, "I am not like other people."

I will write this piece without changing the pronouns.
Once he has started on this path there is no limit to the evil his self-satisfaction may drive him to do in the name of God and of God's love and for God's glory. He is so pleased with himself that he can no longer tolerate the advice of another - or the commands of a superior. When someone opposes his desires he folds his hands humbly and seems to accept it for the time being, but in his heart he is saying: "I am persecuted by worldly people. They are incapable of understanding one who is led by the Spirit of God. With the saint is has always been so."
Having become a martyr he is ten times as stubborn as before.
It is a terrible thing when such a one gets the idea he is a prophet or a messenger of God or a person with a mission to reform the world...He is capable of destroying religion and making the name of God odious to people.

I think I have been with such people. I pray that it has not been me.
I am always amazed at how little folks like this listen. Then again, I often wonder why they listen - as it seems to always come around to their qualities and gifts and goals for life. One of the most frightening aspects of Merton's comment is the intensity with which such a person is convinced of his/her status before God and others. Therefore, everyone else who is a different voice is really either someone easily dismissed or one who is attacking. Either way, this "prophet" separates from others. Rather than be a part of a blessed community, this one attempts to rule the community or simply reject what others have to offer. It appears to me that such a way of life may create some sense of power but it is through an isolation that does no one any good.

Connection: When we listen, often the words of religious people are words that use to support where they are and where they are going...and a spiritual life becomes merely a journey of self-satisfaction. It is good to watch our language and hear what we are saying as people of faith.

You alone are God, O Lord of Life. You alone create out of nothing at all and recreate that which is broken and dead. Guide us so that as we engage our lives, we will no attempt to take on your role but will peacefully remain the people you have created us. Amen.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Thursday 26 June 2008

The burn of self-admiration mentioned yesterday that is thought to be the "fire of the love of God" comes with a new twist.

S/he thinks his own pride is the Holy Ghost.
The sweet warmth of pleasure becomes the criterion of all her/his works. The relish s/he savors in acts that make her/him admirable in her/his own eyes, drives her/him to fast, or to pray or to hide in solitude, or to write many books, or to build churches and hospitals, or to start a thousand organizations. And when he gets what he wants he thinks his sense of satisfaction is the unction of the Holy Spirit.
And now the secret voice of pleasure sings in her/his heart: "I am not like other people."

It is amazing how we let ourselves be led by a power that is our own and yet we can easily call it the power of other...even the other of the Holy Spirit. I'm not saying that the Holy Spirit does not move us and shape us and send us. Rather, it is quite easy to see how one's own achievements can become all the "blessing" we need. When that is the case, we become our our distributor of the holy spirit and that is always a dangerous journey to take on. How many people have entered their great "spiritual journey" with the intention of becoming more holy because what they have associated with spirituality is really that journey of self-admiration that helps one feel wonderful about one's own path. And yet, I don't recall too many "biblical" characters who took on the journey of following Jesus as a way of becoming more spiritual or more holy or more well-known. Rather, they followed...they breathing in fresh air and living a fresh new life.

Connection: Follow and breathe.

Come, Holy Spirit. Come and lift us up so that we will see your gracious Reign and simply enter its life so that all we become within the ordinary of this day comes to blossom along the way of our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Wednesday 25 June 2008

Merton comments about the person who does many things and is in love with his/her own excellence.

The pleasure that is in her/his heart when s/he does difficult things and succeeds in doing them well, tells him secretly: "I am a saint." At the same time, others seem to recognize him as different from themselves. They admire him, or perhaps avoid him/her - a sweet homage of sinners! The pleasure burns into a devouring fire. The warmth of the fire feels like the love of God. It is fed by the same virtues that nourished the flame of charity. S/he burns with self-admiration that thinks: "It is the fire of the love of God."

Self admiration is a glowing light...but how quickly it can burn out and how impossible it is to keep it burning forever. I find that this self "glow" is what becomes the foundation of the way religious people become quite contrary to the love they profess. Such "glowing" and "on fire" folk can become so condemning of what is not like them that they will not allow anyone who doe not experience life like them to be a part of the gathering of saints. Therefore, I would submit that when we let ourselves become such glowing lights, we are really living in a corner of the hell of our own making.

Connection: The warmth of the love of God does not depend on what we are able to do today. So...enjoy the warmth and come to life within its glow.

Inspiring Spirit, you brighten this day as you touch us with the gentle reminder of God's unbounded love for us. We blossom within your embrace. Amen.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Tuesday 24 June 2008

Today we will pick up with the concluding questions from yesterday's quote by Merton.

Who can escape the secret desire to breathe a different atmosphere from the rest of people?
Who can do good things without seeking to taste in them some sweet distinction from the common run of sinners in this world?

This sickness is most dangerous when it succeeds in looking like humility. When a proud person thinks s/he is humble her/his case is hopeless.

Isn't humility an attribute that others place on individuals? It seems as though such a self-designation would only add to the "different atmosphere" one attempts to have from others. It becomes a way of rising above or beyond others...humbly speaking that is.

Connection: The individual is one who is as much as s/he is...nothing more. In the fullness of that being, it may appear to others as being one who is humble and yet, full of life.

Lord of Many Gifts, you bless each of us and you invite us to enter into your Reign and let our gifts unfold as we become a part of the fullness of your creation. Praise to you. Amen.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Monday 23 June 2008

Thomas Merton again from "Unity and Division" in "New Seeds of Contemplation.

And now I am thinking of the disease which is spiritual pride. I am thinking of the peculiar unreality that gets into the hearts of the saints and eats their sanctity aways before it is mature. There is something of this worm in the hearts of all religious people. As soon as they have done something which they know to be good in the eyes of God, they tend to take its reality to themselves and to make it their own. They tend to destroy their virtues by claiming them for themselves and clothing their own private illusion of themselves with values that belong to God.
Who can escape the secret desire to breathe a different atmosphere from the rest of people?
Who can do good things without seeking to taste in them some sweet distinction from the common run of sinners in this world?

It is a worm. Working without being notices...just winding itself away through the very center of who we are so that our center becomes rotten. We can be so filled with the notion of being and doing good and being considered holy that it becomes the power of separation from others. In other words, the designation of being holy becomes the root of our sin when holy is just another award given to something we have done rather than who we are in and through all times. I found these last two questions to be worth a bit of silence contemplation. I will return to these tomorrow.

Connection: Outsiders call people in the church hypocrites and judgmental and pompous. Well, when we take what is God's and put it on ourselves, we often use that as ways to separate ourselves from the rest. Religious folk have to be aware of this temptation on a moment to moment basis.

Blessed Lord, heal us. With you word of grace and mercy and hope remind us of the gift of life that you hand to us to and then invite us to become. Amen.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Friday 20 June 2008

Merton is saying may hard things...sometimes truthfulness is the beginning of great healing.

The person who lives in division is living in death. S/he cannot find her/himself because s/he is lost; s/he has ceased to be a reality. The person s/he believes her/himself to be is a bad dream. And when s/he dies s/he will discover that s/he long ago ceased to exist because God, Who is infinite reality and in Whose sight is the being of everything that is, will say to her/him: "I know you not."

This can have the sound of a "judgment scene" from the scriptures. In someways it is. But I would submit that it is meant to be one that we hear now...not later...not at the end. The judgment does us no good later. The Spirit of God is constantly attempting to open up our eyes and our ears so that this day and the next and everyday we can be about the healing of the division that is the death of us. I don't ever see God saying "I don't know you" for God can always see the precious gift that is beloved from beginning to end. I see this remark to which Merton notes as more like: "Wow, what have you done to your self - my precious child."

Connection: Return to the Lord, Your God, for God is gracious and merciful and abounding in steadfast love...always....and always.

O Foundation of Life and Hope for the Ages, as we walk through this day help us to hear your voice that is able to create new things and heal all that is broken. Amen.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Thursday 19 June 2008

Today we will continue with the piece from yesterday.

The person who lives in division is not a person but only an "individual."
I have what you have not. I am what you are not. I have taken what you have failed to take and I have seized what you could never get. Therefore you suffer and I am happy, you are despised and I am praised, you die and I live; you are nothing and I am something, and I am all the more something because you are nothing. And thus I spend my life admiring the distance between you and me; at time this even helps me to forget the other people who have what I have not and who have taken what I was too slow to take and who have seized what was beyond my reach, who are praised as I cannot be praised and who live on my death...

I wanted to comment about the three dots at the end of this paragraph. The separation and the division never ends. In all of these examples of becoming an individual separate from others, I never become the person that is beloved of God. And yet, it continues. The dots go on to point to more and more lies that we trust rather than trust the promise of our God whose love is the creative power for life even as all else becomes worn and broken and is proven to be false. There is one God and yet we have so many ways of bowing down and handing our lives over to so many gods who we believe will make us into more than anyone else can be. What a hell to live in such a way....and yet we all go there...again and again.

Connection: A strange question for this day might be to ask how we are like the people around us...even when there appears to be great differences. How are we so very much like others and yet able to be truly the person God has created.

Holy God, in all of creation none is like me and yet I am not me unless I am also able to see me in others and to see them in me. Such vision keeps us out of war and helps us to be a part of the peace you have promised from age to age. Amen.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Wednesday 18 June 2008

More from the chapter "Union and Division" by Thomas Merton.

The person who lives in division is not a person but only an "individual."
I have what you have not. I am what you are not. I have taken what you have failed to take and I have seized what you could never get. Therefore you suffer and I am happy, you are despised and I am praised, you die and I live; you are nothing and I am something, and I am all the more something because you are nothing. And thus I spend my life admiring the distance between you and me; at time this even helps me to forget the other people who have what I have not and who have taken what I was too slow to take and who have seized what was beyond my reach, who are praised as I cannot be praised and who live on my death...

This may take a few days to unpack. Let me begin with that opening line. It does not take much to become an individual. The parting of my hair can do that. The way I walk can do that. The place I choose to live can do that. But this does not make a person. I am not just another body walking down the street. I am not simply different from you because of my look or certain designated aspects of what is the status of the day. I am completely fresh and new and beloved by the Creator of all things and that is without having to first make myself worthy in your presence or the presence of anyone else. In fact, as we each entertain the wonder of becoming our person...we become that person in the presence of others...not as separate...but as one whole creative and living power of life called humanity...the whole.

Connection: What can help close the gap in some of the divisions we have built into our lives?

Gracious Lord, there are so many ways we are invited to let down our hair and rest in the truthfulness of your love for us. When we rest there, we find life we may not have expected and it is quite beautiful and empowering. We give you thanks. Amen.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Tuesday 17 June 2008

Continuing with Merton.

People who know nothing of God and whose lives are centered on themselves, imagine that they can only find themselves by asserting their own desires and ambitions and appetites in a struggle with the rest of the world. They try to become real by imposing themselves on other people, by appropriating for themselves some share of the limited supply of created goods and thus emphasizing the difference between themselves and the other people who have less than they, or nothing at all.
They can only conceive one way of becoming real: cutting themselves off from other people and building a barrier of contrast and distinction between themselves and others. They do not know that reality is to be sought not in division but in unity, for we are "members one of another."

What I like about Thomas Merton is that he seems to write from experience. This is no mere observation of what others is what we all do. We know we are acting contrary to the loving power of God that creates us and gifts us and sends us to be life in the world...and yet, we choose other ways of becoming real. But this the way of death. We move ourselves farther and farther away from others and attempt more and more to build our own lives. In that building, we find many and various ways to separate ourselves from others. I may need to be seen as better or to simple see others as less. Whatever the dynamics and the reasoning, we are involved in that ever-present journey that keeps unfolding our brokenness not our blessedness. Our blessedness comes as we are swept up into the unity of all things.

Connection: A good exercise to maintain unity is to simply question the rational for our divisions. It may be a painful experience and we may even choose only point it out but keep up the division. It is a beginning.

Healing Lord, as you continue to offer us new way to break the cycle of our sin, we continue to find ways to stay put. We long for your Spirit to be the power of our lives that brings us together with others so that we can walk with each other along the path of your truthfulness and life. Amen.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Monday 16 June 2008

This week we will move into a new section of "New Seeds of Contemplation" - Union and Division - by Thomas Merton.

In order to become myself I must cease to be what I always thought I wanted to be, and in order to find myself I must go out of myself, and in order to live I have to die.
The reason for this is that I am born in selfishness and therefore my natural efforts to make myself more real and more myself, make me less real and less myself, because they revolve around a lie.

A seed must fall to the ground and die... The ways we choose to build up our own lives are so often the ways the destroy us. This may be simply in the way we cover over the beauty that is already handed to us by our God. The maintenance of all the layers and coverings that attempt to hide but also attempt to build becomes a life task that does not give us time and space to become the one who is already beloved. Within the moment that we are able to pause and look around and not be concerned with what we must do but are able to appreciate the blessing we "are," we can smell the fragrance of new life meant to open up new gifts. This is not an easy exercise when we are working so hard to "make it" or make it all right.

Connection: What would come to life in us today as we find a space to rest and die and blossom?

Lord of Life, you already claim us and call us to be the ones who have been touched by your creative power. When we are impatient and unwilling to listen to the depths of your promises, it is not easy to feel your touch and your call to life. Settle our hearts that we may experience the wonder of life that is us. Amen.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Friday 13 June 2008

Today will be the last piece from Merton's chapter "Things in Their Identity."

Ultimately the only way that I can be myself is to become identified with God in Whom is hidden the reason and fulfillment of my experience.
Therefore there is only one problem on which all my existence, my peace and my happiness depend: to discover myself in discovering God. If I find God I will find myself and if I find my true self I will find God.

Could be nothing more than talking in circles...right?!? Then again, what's wrong with talking in circles when the circle leads us into a greater unfolding of who we are as created by the God who loves us and calls us to be stewards of life. Quite honestly, we are not able to find God. God is constantly revealing God's self to us. I may have all sorts of characters I attempt to be or characters I am fooled into saying are me...but our God continues to call forth the blessed one that is me. As I know our God as gracious and merciful and slow to anger and abiding in steadfast love, I am learning to know a bit about me. Too often the bit about me is rejected or ignored for something else about me...something I have been able to put together of my own doing. And we each touch the reality of our own lives and how we are grasped by God and shaped by God, there really is no power that can take away the true self that comes to life. It is the person God blesses and saves and empowers and encourages even as we are tempted to not listen to who it is God sees in us. Seeing God...seeing self - it all takes vision...and that, is a gift from God in the first place.

Connection: Looking in the mirror or reflecting on our lives is a first step in taking note about how expansive God's love is and what it creates everyday through us. Go take a look at God's creative work.

Lord of Peace and Grace, when you call us each by name we are moved to a greater understanding of how you view all your beloved. As we turn to face others, we see what you love and by seeing that, you pave the way for peacemaking rather than war - reconciliation rather than bitterness. We thank you, O God. Amen.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Thursday 12 June 2008

More by Thomas Merton

The secret of my identity is hidden in the love and mercy of God.
But whatever is in God is really identical with God, for God's infinite simplicity admits no division and no distinction. Therefore I cannot hope to find myself anywhere except God.

I cannot hope to find myself anywhere the love and mercy of God - for that is God. This is our Alpha and Omega. We all look everywhere else in the world for who we are and who we can be. And yet, there is our God - full of love and mercy - longing for us to be seen as we are - beloved. Our identity is that we are beloved and precious. No matter what we think of ourselves or others, God holds the identity of each of us. It is our eternal identity. Imagine how we would treat ourselves and our neighbors and those we consider enemies if we would consider this common identity. From this point, the oneness of God's Reign shines through and it is a powerful and creative place to be.

Connection: Beloved are you...and the one next to you. Yes.

Come, O Life, Come and take us up within your love and mercy so that we would begin to see all things with new eyes. We are the power of your loving presence....we praise you, O God. Amen.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Wednesday 11 June 2008

We continue with Merton as he looks at sin and our false self.

All sin starts from the assumption that my false self, the self that exists only in my own egocentric desires, is the fundamental reality of life to which everything else in the universe is ordered. Thus I use up my life in the desire for pleasures and the thirst for experiences, for power, honor, knowledge and love, to clothe this false self and construct its nothingness into something objectively real. And I wind experiences around myself and cover myself with pleasures and glory like bandages in order to make myself perceptible to myself and to the world, as if I were an invisible body that could only become visible when something visible covered its surface.

This is another wonderful picture of Luther's way of referring to sin as "turned-in-on-self." In this state, that comes so natural to all of us, the universe does become that which spins around me....and that is everything. Once again, we must remember that we are each beloved from before we begin our very first attempt to wind experiences around us that we thing make us somebody. Before our attempt to make something of ourselves, God has already given us the very rock upon which we are able to come to life without hesitation. And yet, to be standing out on that rock is not always what we want. So we cover it up with what we think will give us worth and power and all that will make us more than what we are now. Merton's notes that we each "cover myself with pleasures and glory like bandages." What an interesting way to look at the pleasures and glory we make for ourselves - bandages. What people then see about us is not the beloved of one God...but rather, that wounded one who at all costs will try to make more of who we are by gift alone.

Connection: Let's all take a look around today and see if we can see the bandages with which those around us are wrapped. It may come more easy to us as we look at our enemies. But then, take a look at those most beloved of us...and then...look in the mirror.

Bless us, O God, so that we will find again the simple word you address to us...a word of love and hope and joy and peace. For in your creative work, you have already lifted us up to life that is about to become brimful. And yet, we continue to be lost within ourselves so that we cannot hear your words of renewal and hope. Amen.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tuesday 10 June 2008

Here we hear how this illusory self is what we know as sin - Merton continues.

We are not very good at recognizing illusions, least of all the ones we cherish about ourselves - the ones we are born with and which feed the roots of sin. For most of the people in the world, there is no greater subjective reality than this false self of theirs, which cannot exist. A. life devoted to the cult of this shadow is what is called a life of sin.

Remember that we are blessed to be a people meant for community. It is only within the circle of others that we are given a picture of ourselves that is not based on the cherished illusions of ourselves. We are, as Merton notes, not good at recognizing illusions. How can we be!?! The illusions are the things of our creating...the face...the facade...the make-up that covers blemishes and attempts to transform us from who we are by grace - into who we want to become according to our own storyline. The pursuit of such a false self is life consuming. Nothing else can come to life and blossom. The "me" of this venture becomes the head of the "cult" that will never show us the truth, the way, or the life.

Connection: We are beloved and gifted as we have others around us who will help us see through the fog of our own illusions and come to see the beloved of God...that is each one of us.

You, O God, patiently wait for us to awaken to the word of love you send spinning into our world. Too often, we would rather live within a dream than be at rest in you alone. When you give us a place to rest, we are given the opportunity to hear your word of love and mercy that brings out the gifts of our lives as you see us. Thanks be to you, O God. Amen.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Monday 9 June 2008

This week begins with a move into a deeper look at our "false self." Thomas Merton.

Every one of us is shadowed by an illusory person: a false self.
This is the person I want myself to be but who cannot exist, because God does not know anything about him/her. And to be unknown of God is altogether too much privacy.
My false and private self is the one who wants to exist outside the reach of God's will and God's love - outside of reality and outside of life. And such a self cannot help but be an illusion.

This person cannot exist because God does not know anything about him/her. What a powerful word. The person God created as you, has a future that is within God's Reign that become the unfolding of our present person - beloved of God. Whenever we attempt to put some other image of self on the table - someone other than the beloved of God - we must remember that it is someone build on an illusion. It is a person built on what we would make and what we would like to see be our reality. And yet, as Merton notes, this is a false illusory person. We build this person out of many images and dreams and attempts to fashion our lives into the lives of gods. When we go there...we move away from our God who really knows us at the very heart of what God has called beloved. What we build will the grass. What God makes of us is firm and full of potential and will not wither or decay. The spirit of life that God sends to help us unfold as God's beloved - as God sees us - will see to the integrity of our being no matter what the situation at hand presents to us. No illusion...just the reality of God's knowledge of us as God's own.

Connection: We are continuously called into a position of vulnerability so that the power of our God to make us whole will be seen by us. How does one face up to our own illusions...and who will be the people around us that will help us see through the mist of those illusions.

Living Lord, you are the stream of life that flows eternally through our lives. You are the water that refreshes us so that we will again and again be drawn to your life-giving presence that continues to make us into your beloved. We give you thanks. Amen.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Friday 6 June 2008

Continuing on with this image of creating ourselves with God - Thomas Merton.

We do not know clearly beforehand what the result of this work (to share with God the work of creating the truth of our identity) will be. the secret of my full identity is hidden in God. God alone can make me who I am, or rather who I will be when at last I fully begin to be. But unless I desire this identity and work to find it with God and in God, the work will never be done. The way of doing it is a secret I can learn from no one else but God. There is no way of attaining to the secret without faith. But contemplation is the greater and more precious gift, for it enables me to see and understand the work that God wants done.
the seeds that are planted in my liberty at every moment, by God's will, are the seeds of my own identity, my own reality, my own happiness, my own sanctity.

Whew! This can sound as though it is something out of our realm of reality. And yet, I would insist that this "secret" is the good news. It is the eternal word about us that brings life, liberation, renewal, and joy. It is the word of love that transcends all other words and therefore is the foundation upon which the fullness of life is before us ready to take on as our own. Don't worry about having to hear special "voices" passing off secret messages. The message is as bold as the incarnation...the angels singing to the shepherds...the first disciples stumbling into a new world because the Spirit makes that kind of life happen - ready or not - here it comes! How is it that we attempt to make so much of what God wants us to do? It is as though we are anxious about making up scorecards for ourselves and everyone around us. In that way, we can judge whether some make it or fail. The truth is more of a gift not a demand. If we were able to remain in the truth of God's creative voice, the gift would be the power that brings us life. Remember, before there was any law, there was the God who creates and redeems and rescues and liberates and forgives. Already the power for new life is available and we are now like seeds ready to burst into all that we will be.

Connection: What will you blossom into today?

Lord of the Future and Presiding Presence, how wonderful this day will be as we find within us the seeds of hope and life and love and grace that you have already placed in, with, and under all your beloved saints. Amen.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Thursday 5 June 2008

Today is a continuation of the piece from yesterday - again - Merton.

We can evade this responsibility (to share with the god the work of creating the truth of our identity) by playing with masks, and this pleases us because it can appear at times to be a free and creative way of living. It is quite easy, it seems to please everyone. But in the long run the cost and the sorrow come very high. To work out our identity in God, which the bible calls "working out our salvation," is a labor that requires sacrifice and anguish, risk and many tears. It demands close attention to reality at every moment, and great fidelity to God as God reveals God's self, obscurely, in the mystery of each new situation.

It is painful to think of the great cost to each of us when we put on masks in order to please others. It is painful for me because it means that I am not being me. I am not being the one God created and then set free to be just I just thought of watching a young boy acting out in all his glory and then the father steps in to bring him under his grasp. The freedom of creative joy...the freedom of trying out a new hat or walking in a new way or speaking from a new position, is put away and a mask is put up so that the father will have life as he wants it. For me, this is a brutality that goes against creation. At the same time, I must remember that this kind of brutality crosses over generations. This is not to condone such action. Rather, it is with the hope that each of us will be able to find a way experience our creative freedom and let it sit with us even in the face of all the powers that attempt to take hold and remake us. Creation is God's activity still going on for us. According to that creative power, I'm sure we need not wear masks and pretend to be anything more than the blessed and beloved we are. We are "working out our salvation." It is there and we are invited to have its creative word with us even when we must wrestle with demons in all shapes and forms and no matter what their proximity is to us.

Connection: Bless are you, beloved of God. Let that be a beginning point to your creativity today.

Lord of Creation, be the power of life that ignites a stream of hopefulness that calls forth all that you have given us as the gift of life that is each of us. Amen.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Wednesday 4 June 2008

The honesty of being a self and holding forth as one. Some more thoughts by Thomas Merton.

Our vocation is not simply to be, but to work together with God in the creation of our own life, our own identity, our own destiny. We are free beings and sons/daughters of God. This means to say that we should not passively exist, but actively participate in God's creative freedom, in our own lives, and in the lives of others, by choosing the truth. To put it better, we are even called to share with God the work of creating the truth of our identity.

So...our very prayers are not merely silent or vocal words of hopefulness and thanksgiving. Our prayers become the lives we enter and take on as we, with God, fashion our identity and destiny as God's beloved. It is all too easy to sit back and expect that others will act. At times that is also how we look at our prayers...something or someone will act for us. And yet, prayer brings us into direct contact with our world and the life situations that wait for our participation as the beloved of God. Choosing the truth is life in is is is is creation on the move and active and making sure that new things continue to burst into life. Truth means that we each must enter that vital work of being truthful. We must not use it to tear down - although sometimes the truth will tear away the masks of any of us who wear them. As we are the beloved of God and live into that reality, our masks are to drop and we are left to be vulnerable and truthful in the face of any power that may want to have its way among us.

Connection: So, in the middle of what we think is our vocation, there is the vocation of being...being the beloved of God. That vocation may help us bring integrity to any other vocation we claim for ourselves.

When you create, O God, you let all that comes into For your saints, it is not always an easy way because we allow ourselves to serve other ways. Be for us the guiding light and touch that helps us walk within the truthfulness of our place in your Reign. Amen.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Tuesday 3 June 2008

So much time to consider who we are and who we will be. Merton reminds us that it is a journey...a vital and necessary journey.

We are at a liberty to be real, or to be unreal. We may be true or false, the choice is ours. We may wear now one mask and now another, and never, if we so desire, appear with our own true face. But we cannot make these choices with our impunity. Causes have effects, and if we lie to ourselves and to others, then we cannot expect to find truth and reality whenever we happen to want them. if we have chosen the way of falsity we must not be surprised that truth eludes us when we finally come to need it!

Have you ever caught yourself wearing a mask that is not you!?! It is not a pleasant thing for me. Part of what is so painful is that I have seen individuals who wear so many masks, I cannot be sure with whom I'm talking. That makes it difficult to trust. For me, the work at hand must be making sure that I am as authentic as I can be to who I am. In that way, it is my hope that a many-masked person whose real self is hidden or oppressed may see the joy in simply being God's Beloved. I know that I am always moved and inspired by those who are so naturally themselves and so gifted by being just that, that it makes me remember to do the same - live as the beloved of God that I am. It is not an impossible task. "We are at liberty, to be real, or to be unreal."

Connection: Have a real day today!

Spirit of Life, when you bring us home to ourselves, we are free to be beloved and not work to find some way to earn or gain that status. Remind us again of this gift you have handed us and the power of your Spirit that marks us for the life that will be ours to live. Amen.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Monday 2 June 2008

Once again, Thomas Merton give me much to consider as a saint of God.

For me to be a saint means to be myself. Therefore the problem of sanctity and salvation is in fact the problem of finding out who I am and of discovering my true self.
Trees and animals have no problem. God makes them what they are without consulting them, and they are perfectly satisfied.
With us it is different. God leaves us free to be whatever we like. We can be ourselves or not, as we please.

"With us it is different." We are invited into a life that is our own. That is always an adventure and sometimes we choose not to enter that adventure. Too often, we can be drawn into another way of living that is not us. This does not mean that our lives are sketched out in detail. Rather it means, I am God's beloved - I am that one. is this gift of life going to enter into the ever-present invitation to be fully me. As times change...what will I will I take shape...who will be the person that is ever-expanding into the gift of life that is handed to me. How many times have you caught yourself attempting to be something other than you? It sometimes drive me nuts when I catch myself in that act. That is why forgiveness is so vital to building up and nurturing the me that is me and the you that is you.

Connection: This could be you...fully you for some moments of this day. What is it like to find yourself in that position.

Creative God, within each of us you provide us with a life that is precious and just waiting to take shape in, with, and under this day. By your Spirit's power, we are given the vision to see the path that is ours. Encourage us to walk along by faith. Amen.