Thomas Merton. The Hidden Ground of Love. Letters, Volume 1. William H. Shannon, editor. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1985. pp. 157-158.
Monday, April 23, 2007
God in our poverty... (Merton)
"Love is the epiphany of God in our poverty. The contemplative life is then the search for peace not in an abstract exclusion of all outside reality, not in a barren negative closing of the senses upon the world, but in the openness of love. [The contemplative life] begins with the acceptance of my own self in my poverty and my nearness to despair in order to recognize that where God is there can be no despair, and God is in me even if I despair. Nothing can change God's love for me, since my very existence is the sign that God loves me and the presence of His love creates and sustains me. Nor is there any need to understand how this can be or to explain it or to solve the problems it seems to raise. For there is in our hearts and in the very ground of our being a natural certainty which is co-extensive with our very existence: a certainty that says that insofar as we exist we are penetrated through and through with the sense and reality of God even though we may be utterly unable to believe or experience this in philosophic or even religious terms. The message of hope [I offer you, then,] is not that you need to find your way through the jungle of language and problems that today surround God: but that whether you understand or not, God loves you, is present in you, lives in you, dwells in you, calls you, saves you, and offers you an understanding and light which are like nothing you have ever found in books or heard in sermons. [I have] nothing to tell you except to reassure you and say that, if you dare to penetrate your own silence and risk sharing that solitude with the lonely other who seeks God through you, then you will truly recover the light and the capacity to understand what is beyond words and beyond explanations because it is too close to be explained: it is the intimate union in the depths of you own heart, of God's spirit and your own secret inmost self, so that you and God are in all truth One Spirit. I love you, in Christ.