Thursday, June 22, 2017

We do not know the things that are for our peace

Photo by Thomas Merton, from "The Zen Photography of Thomas Merton"
For the last few days (or years) I’ve been pondering Merton’s words in “Conjectures”. This particular vein of Merton’s writings are especially relevant now, speaking to what I read in “the news”,  a near constant bickering and standoff between conservatives and liberals. You’re wrong, we’re right.

Merton speaks of this projection as being both collective and personal. We project our darkness as a group and as individuals, onto others. The enemy. We scapegoat. This certainly resonates with how I have come to know the world (life) and myself, and it helps to read Merton affirming the insight. Nowadays, few are willing to talk about it, at least not in terms strong and clear enough to break the spell.

My efforts here are to pull from Conjectures, little by little, the words that are particularly resonating. Bring together a coherent message that might better expose the tangled mess of lies that we are trapped in. Merton’s writing on the matter is dense and deep. If I read too much at one time, I don't totally grasp the broad yet precise truth of what he is conveying. Which leads me to believe that it is not just an intellectual wisdom that Merton is passing on, rather something that we find within ourselves. A hope, a peace, a revelation. An awakening.

Today, there is this:
We live in crisis, and perhaps we find it interesting to do so.

Yet we also feel guilty about it, as if we ought not to be in crisis.

As if we were so wise, so able, so kind, so reasonable, that crisis ought at all times to be unthinkable. It is doubtless this “ought,” this “should” that makes our era so interesting that it cannot possibly be a time of wisdom, or even of reason.

We think we know what we ought to be doing, and we see ourselves move, with inexorable deliberation of a machine that has gone wrong, to do the the opposite. A most absorbing phenomenon which we cannot stop watching, measuring, discussing, analyzing,  and perhaps deploring!

But it goes on.
And, as Christ said over Jerusalem, we do not know the things that are for our peace.

-Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, p. 66
Does not this passage nail us, now more than 50 years after Merton wrote it? Are we missing the point, the very gift of our time, our crisis?


a time when a difficult or important decision must be made.

"a crisis point of history"

synonyms:critical point, turning point, crossroads, watershed, head, moment of truth, zero hour, point of no return,

1 comment:

  1. 2Cents

    perhaps one should
    sit down and cry there eyes out
    go out to a good restaurant
    and have a good dinner -
    the problem of evil will only
    be solved with kindness -
    good and evil exist in the mind
    both are the deviousness of thought
    - be still and know

    happy happy blessings be


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