Back to Merton. Again. It could take me years to get through this slim book. It’s like ==> read a paragraph, think for a week.
In his eighth chapter on Integrity, he nails dead-on a spiritual conundrum that I have always wrestled with :
“And so it takes heroic humility to be yourself and be nobody but the man…that God intended you to be. You will be made to feel that your honesty is only pride. This is a serious temptation because you can never be sure whether you are being true to yourself or building up a defense for the false personality that is the creature of your own appetite for esteem.“
Yeah. That has been a chronic confusion of mine. Am I living God’s will or am I living my own rationalzation of His Will to fit my own desires? And how the hell can I tell the difference?
I’d like to request a little device like a sensor. Call it an ego meter, bullshit detector, whatever. It would alert me when I am living out of my ego instead of my true self.
I can tell when I am straying when I’m doing stuff I know is outright harmful or wrong. I need the most help once I am within the zone of being “righteous” or “spiritual.” When I sit down to examine my conscience for obvious sin and I don’t find much, I start to worry. I am suspicious of my own spiritual successes. I can’t let a holy moment in prayer just be a holy moment. Am I confused or what?
But Merton says this struggle is a good one:
“But the greatest humility can be learned from the anguish of keeping your balance in such a poistion: of continuing to be yourself without getting tough about it and without asserting your false self against the false selves of other people.”
That’s all well and good Tom, but I still want my sensor.