The vanity of our best efforts

From Tertullian: Malim nullum bonum quam vanum. “I would rather have nothing than have vanity.”
When we face the vanity of our best efforts, their triviality, their involvement in illusion, we become desperate. And then we are tempted to do anything as long as it seems to be good. We may abandon a better good with which we have become disillusioned and embrace a lesser good with a frenzy that prevents us from seeing the greater illusion.
So, through effort that may seem to be wasted, we must patiently go towards a good that is to be given to the patient and the disillusioned.
– Thomas Merton, Journal entry, May 29/30. 1962
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Evangelization of Peace: The Radical Life of Father Louis Vitale

“Along the way things get clogged up. If you have children, you constantly have to watch out for them and tell them, ‘Don’t go down that alleyway… don’t do this or that,’” Vitale says. “We should go out with love and care for people as Jesus cares for us.”

Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour – Wallace Stevens

Light the first light of evening, as in a room
In which we rest and, for small reason, think
The world imagined is the ultimate good.

This is, therefore, the intensest rendezvous. 
It is in that thought that we collect ourselves,
Out of all the indifferences, into one thing:

Within a single thing, a single shawl
Wrapped tightly round us, since we are poor, a warmth, 
A light, a power, the miraculous influence.

Here, now, we forget each other and ourselves.
We feel the obscurity of an order, a whole, 
A knowledge, that which arranged the rendezvous.

Within its vital boundary, in the mind.
We say God and the imagination are one... 
How high that highest candle lights the dark.

Out of this same light, out of the central mind, 
We make a dwelling in the evening air, 
In which being there together is enough.

the bickering of mice

It is necessary for me to see the first point of light that begins to be dawn. It is necessary to be present alone at the resurrection of Day in solemn silence at which the sun appears, for at this moment all the affairs of cities, of governments, of war departments, are seen to be the bickering of mice. I receive from the eastern woods, the tall oaks, the one word DAY. It is never the same. It is always in a totally new language. – Thomas Merton

Today, may I know what I am

Many will Come – Rachel Srubas

(Photo: somewhere on The Airline Road, sometime 2008)

Today, may I walk in right paths, in God’s light. May peace prosper the steps of my family and friends, in city streets and buildings, and among all nations.
Today, may people stream from east and west to converge in God’s neighborhood. May nations labor to dismantle barricades. May our city be a just, peaceable center, united and vibrant. May my friends and relations strive for the good of each other, and may I remember I am neither higher nor lower than a servant.
Today, may east and west meet in my right and left hands, complementing, comprehending one another.
In my body, may north and south correspond, lifting my mind above worry, grounding my feet on the earth.
Today may I know what I am: created, not self-made, instructed to walk and work in God’s ways.
May I hammer old knives into new spoons, old enmities into love.
May I respect the least functional part of myself as surely as Jesus cherishes a paralytic slave and saves him with a word.
May the shriveled and disused part of my heart be bathed in God’s mercy today, that I might see sunlight for what it is: the gaze that beholds and heals us all.
In a banquet hall spacious enough for a whole world of nations, may I rest among neighbors and strangers, friends and relations.
May we feast among prophets on food grown in plowed mountain soil, reaped with weapons repurposed as tools.

The best things

Via Joseph Campbell: My friend Heinrich Zimmer of years ago used to say, “The best things can’t be told,” because they transcend thought. “The second best are misunderstood,” because those are the thoughts that are supposed to refer to that which can’t be thought about, and one gets stuck in the thoughts.” The third best are what we talk about.

How little the dying seem to need

Bedside MannersChristopher Wiseman

How little the dying seem to need—
A drink perhaps, a little food,
A smile, a hand to hold, medication,
A change of clothes, an unspoken
Understanding about what’s happening.
You think it would be more, much more,
Something more difficult for us
To help with in this great disruption,
But perhaps it’s because as the huge shape
Rears up higher and darker each hour
They are anxious that we should see it too
And try to show us with a hand-squeeze.

We panic to do more for them,
And especially when it’s your father,
And his eyes are far away, and your tears
Are all down your face and clothes,
And he doesn’t see them now, but smiles
Perhaps, just perhaps because you’re there.
How little he needs. Just love. More Love.