Monday, April 24, 2006

A bit more Merton

"It is useless to try to make peace with ourselves by being pleased with everything we have done. In order to settle down in the quiet of our own being we must learn to be detached from the results of our own activity. We must withdraw ourselves, to some extent, from effects that are beyond our control and be content with the good will and the work that are the quiet expression of our inner life. We must be content to live without watching ourselves live, to work without expecting an immediate reward, to love without an instantaneous satisfaction, and to exist without any special recognition."

From No Man is an Island by Thomas Merton
(Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers, New York, 1955) Page 121.

Merton getting to me again, thanks to The Merton Foundation's weekly email. He is so right here... I'm sorry to complain again about some of the charismatic/evangelical ways of doing things - and I don't mean to tar everyone with the same brush, truly - but there does tend to be an unspoken assumption that all of our lives, and the results and effects thereof, are under our control. The wholly admirable LutheranChik has an extraordinary post here, where among some very salutory remarks for people like me who tend to critcise other (our own old) ways of doing things, she remarks, "The bottom line, in the words of Luther, is that we're all beggars... The good news is that God refuses to let that prevent God from claiming us, from saving us, from seeking to befriend us. If death itself wasn't going to stop Christ, then the cluelessness of his friends certainly wasn't going to either." And that of course includes us.

We don't after all have to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps... we don't have to manufacture our own righteousness. Jesus has reached down into the worst pit we can dig for ourselves, and drawn us up into his risen life with his own strong, gentle, nail-pierced hand. All we have to do is to cry, with Bartimaeus and with the tax-collector at the Temple, "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!"

Jesus, Saviour, Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, you have done it already...!

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