Thomas Merton was a Trappist monk who was noted for his insights into the contemplative life. He died some years ago, the victim of a car crash.
Guy Chevreau first introduced me to Merton when I was discovering the classic by St John of the Cross, “Dark Night of the Soul”. (Thank you Guy for setting me on a journey of contemplative life.)
I stumbled across this quote from Merton today and felt to share it with you and then to ask you a question once you’ve read it …
“.. discover what the spiritual life really is. It is not a matter of doing one good thing rather than another, of praying in one way rather than in another. It is not a matter of any special psychological effect in our own soul. It is the silence of our whole being in compunction and adoration before God, in the habitual realization that He is everything and we are nothing, that He is the Centre to which all things tend, and to Whom all our actions must be directed. That our life and strength proceed from Him, that both in life and in death we depend entirely on Him, that the whole course of our life is foreknown by Him and falls into the plan of His wise and merciful Providence; that it is absurd to live as though without Him, for ourselves, by ourselves; that all our plans and spiritual ambitions are useless unless they come from Him and that, in the end, the only thing that matters is His glory.”
Isn’t this what 11 men discovered while walking with their friend for 3 years? How can this ever become a reality for anyone whilever we continue to sell our souls to our program-driven church experiences rather than determining to come aside to learn what it is from Jesus to be His true disciple? Think about the “1″ I left out. Judas thought his way was a better way, but he got “hung up” in the end.
Merton’s insight provides a challenge for the individual, but more so the members of a church community. Whilever the “success of the program” replaces my inter-dependance on others as a display of God’s grace to me, I will never know what it is to discover community as simply nor as richly as that found by 12 men and their mentor some 2000 years ago.
Oh for the chance to come aside and truly be with Jesus and have that be our true experience of church! It’s not until we walk with Jesus as a true disciple that we can ever be sent out as true apostles.
Just a thought.