"This was another quality. I would call it the quality of fearlessness. That I think is one of the most important attributes of Merton: that he communicated to so many people what it is like to live a fearless life." - Jim ForestI have been musing over this quality of fearlessness the past few days – what it is to live without fear or anxiety, with each day truly a gift and adventure. I believe that both Merton and Dorothy Day tapped into a wellspring of Life, living water that allowed them to live without fear. They both found within the context of Catholicism an incredible freedom and a way that opened out toward previously unimaginable possibility.
I wonder if, like Jim suggests, one can "catch" this freedom by being around a person who has discovered it? Can one point the way for another? Is it even possible for you to discover your own fearlessness by yourself? Or is it pure gift? Is it gift that is always given, but we discover how to accept?
Jim Forest goes on to add …
"If you read, as I am at the moment, the first of these volumes of his journals that are being published, you might keep it in the back of your mind while you are reading it, how open he is, how unprotective he is about himself, his future, and so on. There is some place where he just says that you have to abandon yourself completely, to love God and love your neighbour. This sense of abandonment. Not to be worried about the future and what will happen. Will you have the house? Will you have this and will you have that? Will people care about you? Will you be important etc. etc.? Although he didn't speak about it very often and perhaps never spoke about it so transparently as in these early journals, this theme that we see picked up very early in the journals is of simply abandoning yourself so that you can live very freely in the Resurrection because there is nothing actually to worry about. There's nothing we can do to prevent our death. There's absolutely nothing we can do to prevent a good deal of suffering in our own lives. It's all going to happen. And so you just say well that's going to happen. The form it will take remains to be seen. The only thing that actually matters is just simply living in obedience, living in attentiveness to this wonderful creation that's been given to us and which will carry us along in whatever way is necessary. This sense of the providence of God. Whenever you meet somebody like that, it's a life-changing experience. As much as people talk about it, when you encounter the reality of somebody who lives with that kind of absolute confidence in the providence of God, you are never the same again. It's very freeing."