25 September 2005

Reality, reconsidered

Jules has posted a marvelous quote from Thomas Merton, along with her usual muscular thinking. (Quite a few bloggers who struggle with physical issues end up able to do some heavy lifting at the keyboard. I wonder if it's anything like those who lose one sense, only to have the others become more acute...?)

Here's the quote, from The Seeds of Contemplation:

We make ourselves real by telling the truth.
Jules writes:

Think for a moment of all the times in your life where you have felt like a phony. Times when you were trying to be something you were not or trying to live up to someone else's expectations of who you really were. It's a pretty sick feeling, isn't it? You're always on the edge of things wondering when you will be found out. Wondering when the truth will surface.
That really hits home.

Over time, the ache to be free takes over. Free from the restrictions, free from the demands, free from the standards set by someone we've never even met. We long to say what we feel, regardless if it is considered primitive, uneducated or benign. We long to do what means most, regardless if we can make a large salary, bring home benefits, or stash cash in a 401K. We long to be seen...not for what we "do" or for who we raised or even for where we live. We want more. We need more. We begin to need...
"...free from the standards set by someone we've never even met." About three years ago, I had to go through a grieving process. It was awful, but necessary, and God stayed with me right through. One of the things I grieved for was the loss of the chance for a certain kind of life because I was following rules laid down by "dead people," as I've come to call them. Why did I worry so about transgressing their little customs and preferences? I am not talking here about Scriptural truth, but about such things as "it isn't wise to let a boy know how you feel about him." But then again, I was only 17, and my life was chaotic, and there were lots of good reasons I couldn't trust, and... and...
And one day, we turn around and realize that all those years of armor and masks were the worst years of our lives; not the best.
A-men, sister.

It is in the nakedness of truth that we finally become what God originally intended us to be...and, I believe, it's where we see Him - at last - in all his glory and all His love and all his grace - waving us in, calling us home. And it is here we realize that we could never expect to spend a single moment in His presence as anything less than truly what we are.
So often aspirants to the contemplative life come into the monastery thinking that it's all about learning to pray, acquiring good habits ... only to find that success lies in letting go of everything: physical comforts, natural ties to family and friends, and, finally, oneself; giving up the right to oneself completely. Oswald Chambers teaches me this over and over again. I never fail to be gratefully amazed at the continuing fountain of insight in My Utmost for His Highest.

We make ourselves real by telling the truth.
Read her whole post.

I agree with Jules ... I could think and write about that for a long, long while.

1 comment:

HeyJules said...

I am just so very flattered that you took what I said about what Merton originally said and then added to it. It's just THRILLING to me to get others to think about things in depth and then apply what it means to their own lives.

I hope you continue to find things in my writing that push you forward in your walk with God and in becoming the wonderful, whole person he created you to be. It would truly be an answer to a prayer of mine.

Thank you. I am humbled that you were touched.