Sooner or later the world must burn and all things in it – all the books, the cloister together with the brothel, Fra Angelico together with the Lucky Strike ads…Sooner or later it will all be consumed by fire and nobody will be left, for by that time the last man in the universe will have discovered the bomb capable of destroying the universe and will have been unable to resist the temptation to throw the thing and get it over with.
And here I sit writing a diary.
But Love laughs at the end of the world because Love is the door to eternity. He who loves is playing on the doorstep of eternity, and before anything can happen, Love will have drawn him over the sill and closed the door. He won’t bother about the world burning because he will know nothing but Love.
– Thomas Merton, Journal, October 10, 1948
(photo: New Smyrna Beach, Florida – April 2019)
Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.
– Kings 19:11-12
(Photo: Portland, Maine – August 2007)
There is a country to cross you will
find in the corner of your eye, in
the quick slip of your foot – air far
down, a snap that might have caught.
And maybe for you, for me, a high, passing
voice that finds its way by being
afraid. That country is there, for us,
carried as it is crossed. What you fear
will not go away: it will take you into
yourself and bless you and keep you.
That’s the world, and we all live there.
THE BUDDHA SAID that we should not be afraid of the past; but he did warn us not to lose ourselves in it, either. We should not feed our regret or pain over the past, and we should not get carried away by the past. We do need to study and understand the past, however, because by looking deeply into the past we learn a lot of things that can benefit the present and the future. The past is an object of our study, of our meditation, but the way to study it or meditate on it is by remaining anchored in the present moment.
– Thich Nhat Hanh
Henceforth, from the mind,
For your whole joy, must spring
Such joy as you may find
In any earthly thing,
And every time and place
Will take your thought for grace.
Henceforth, from the tongue,
From shallow speech alone,
Comes joy you thought, when young,
Would wring you to the bone,
Would pierce you to the heart
And spoil its stop and start.
Henceforward, from the shell,
Wherein you heard, and wondered
At oceans like a bell
so far from ocean sundered—
A smothered sound that sleeps
Long lost within lost deeps,
Will chime you change and hours,
The shadow of increase,
Will sound you flowers
Born under troubled peace–
Will echo sea and earth.
Photo: Springfield, Missouri – August 2015
So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees.
Make straight paths for your feet,
that what is lame may not be disjointed but healed.
2 Hebrews 12:11-13
Photo: Assisi – January 2005
I want to seek nothing at all, if this is possible. but only to be led without looking and without seeking. For thus to seek is to find. – Thomas Merton, journal entry – August 2, 1960
(Photo: Abiquiu, NM, September 2018
It just comes. That is the miracle of it.
The false self is your psychological creation of yourself in space and time. It comes from your early conditioning, family, roles, education, mind, culture, and religion. The false self is who you think you are! But thinking doesn’t make it so. The false self dies and passes away. Yet it is the raw material through which you discover your True Self in God, so you must not hate it or kill it. Just learn from it. Of itself, it does not know how to pray, because it does not understand simple presence, communion, or relationship. The false self is all about utility and “What can I get out of this?” Not bad, but very incomplete.
The True Self is not created by anything you have done right or wrong. Nor can you lose it by doing anything good or bad. The True Self is not formed by adhering to any requirements; it’s about relationship itself—the quality and capacity for connection. Only the True Self can pray. The false self will say prayers but the True Self is a prayer and looks out at reality from a different pair of eyes larger than its own. This is why in Ephesians it can say “pray always” (6:18). We pray always whenever we act in conscious and loving union with things—which eventually can be all the time. Then whatever you do is a prayer, not a recited prayer but a full-bodied, bigger-than-mind, contemplative prayer. When you are in your True Self, your prayer and your breath are the same thing.
– R. Rohr