Rewinding Merton

I’m starting over. Three chapters into Thomas Merton’s “Seeds of Contemplation,” I realized that this book cannot be read like a normal book. So I’m going back to read and contemplate more deliberatively and reflectively. The words and thoughts are too rich to be consumed quickly. In the spirit of sainteros, whose blog has been an inspiration to me, I’m doing Merton lectio style.

“In all created things we, who do not yet perfectly love God, can find something that reflects the fulfillment of heaven and something that reflects the anguish of hell.” (p17)

Any fulfillment we find in created things belongs to God. It is the disorder of our souls which imposes undue desires and expectations on created objects or people — i.e. they will make us “happy” or make others admire us — which creates the anguish. To be “holy” is not to turn away from created things, but to turn away from the undue desire that our imperfect souls place upon them.

Perhaps this is what it means to be “in the world but not of the world?” Perhaps these undue desires we attach to the things and people in our lives is the “baggage” that everyone talks about needing to unload? Are these the “issues” we refer to when we say we have “issues?” Ooh, I am almost afraid to take this idea to prayer because I don’t want to have to think about removing the “baggage” I attach to everything in my life.

But I must eventually:

“Instead of worshipping God through his creation we are always trying to worship ourselves by means of his creatures. But to worship ourselves is to worship nothing. And the worship of nothing is hell.”

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