April 10, 1965. The religion of our time, to be authentic, needs to be the kind that escapes practically all religious definition. Because there has been endless definition, endless verbalizing, and words have become gods. There are so many words that one cannot get to God as long as [God] is thought to be on the other side of words. But when [God] is placed firmly beyond the other side of words, the words multiply like flies and there is a great buzzing religion, very profitable, very holy, very spurious. One tries to escape it by acts of truth that fail. One’s whole being must be an act for which there can be found no word. This is the primary meaning of faith. On this basis, other dimensions of belief can be made credible. Otherwise not. My whole being must be a yes and an amen and an exclamation that is not heard. Only after that is there any point in exclamations and even after there is no point in exclamations. One’s acts must be part of the same silent exclamation … If only [we] could realize that nothing HAS TO BE uttered. Utterance makes sense only when it is spontaneous and free.” (The Courage for Truth, p. 25)
Notes from Roger Lipsey (Angelic Mistakes, p. 52-53):
“[this image]… can be understood as glimpses of another world, another quality of energy and organization, not maps but something more like visions from the margin of experience, where matter and energy become interchangeable.. appears to have been done completely without the brush; he seems to have inked grass stems and pulled prints directly from them … chance and providence meet …
When first encountered, these works may seem slight and odd. What a great distance has been traveled from the majestic Zen brushworks. Is it distance gained? The notion of gain or loss is misleading at this point in Merton’s development as an artist; there is simply change in a search that no longer measured itself and perhaps never measured itself along a line of progression. But I can report from my own experience that these images of little visible substance, hovering at some “incomparable point” in space, once seemed to me slight but now strike me as remarkable. This is not a crucial claim or perspective. It simply asks us to keep looking.”
Saturday, March 22, 2008
an act for which there can be found no word
image by Thomas Merton. Untitled.
image size: 7 1/4" h x 10" w
From Dorothy Day’s editorial in the Catholic Worker on the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.