Thursday, July 26, 2012

What we have to be is what we are

drawing by Thomas Merton
The passage below is excerpted from a wonderful talk given by Jonathan Montaldo in Rome in July 2012 (posted on his blog, Monkswork).

He’s right - readers of Merton are not just peering into the life of someone who searched for God and an authentic life, they are following Merton’s invitation to enter the mystery of their own lives.  Merton’s words point toward something Other than himself.  I especially like Jonathan’s use (below) of the phrase: “un-walled-up human beings”.

... May Merton’s witness mentor our confidence to accept our inexhaustibly rich vocation to be fully alive as joy-filled, compassionate and un-walled-up human beings. A month before his death in Bangkok, Thailand by accidental electrocution on December 10, 1968, Thomas Merton gave his contemplative life’s project an unintended final summary in a talk he gave in Calcutta, India:
"I stand among you as one who offers a small message of hope, that first, there are always people who dare to seek on the margin of society, who are not dependent on social acceptance, not dependent on social routine, and prefer a kind of free-floating existence under a state of risk. And among these people, if they are faithful to their own calling, to their own vocation, and to their own message from God, communication on the deepest level is possible.

"And the deepest level of communication is not communication, but communion. It is wordless. It is beyond words, and it is beyond speech, and it is beyond concept. Not that we discover a new unity. We discover an older unity. My dear brothers and sisters, we are already one. But we imagine that we are not. So what we have to recover is our original unity. What we have to be is what we are. "
Thomas Merton. The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton. Edited by James Laughlin, Naomi Burton Stone and Brother Patrick Hart (New York: New Directions, 1973): 307-308

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