Lectio Divina Reading
July 8, 2004
"We live in the fullness of time. Every moment is God’s own good time, his kairos. The whole thing boils down to giving ourselves in prayer a chance to realize that we have what we seek. We don’t have to rush after it. It is there all the time, and if we give it time it will make itself known to us ." Thomas Merton
Some Practical Notes
"Learn to be alone’ is the title of one of the chapters of New Seeds of Contemplation," and in it Merton has some practical and profoundly wise advice. Find the place he tells us, and once you have found it, be content with it ‘love it, and return to it as soon as you can, and do not be too quick to change it for another’. And then make a real effort to put aside all noise, both the outer and the inner.
"You should be able to untether yourself from the world and set yourself free,
loosing all the fine strings and tensions that bind you,
to the presence of others.
…Let there be a place somewhere in which you can breathe
and not to have to take your breath in continuous short gasps.
A place where your mind can be idle and forget its concerns,
descend into silence,
and worship the Father in secret.
This is not as easy as it sounds. It is not easy to switch off. I find myself making lists of things I need to do, in the grip of distracting thoughts, and continuing inner conversations, particularly any in which I feel myself to be the injured party, misunderstood and undervalued. This is of course something only too familiar to monks and hermits as they also struggle to center themselves on God in solitude. St. Benedict knew very well the hazards of what he called ‘murmuring.’ Commenting on this Merton gave the original Latin word its old English translation grouching, griping, like cramps in the stomach, a kind of cramp or spasm that gets into the soul. It really is a vice, and like any vice it can get a grip. Perhaps today we can see that it is a form of addiction, and like any addiction needs to be rooted out, and that is something for which we need help. First and foremost I seek God’s help by throwing myself on His mercy and asking for His grace to uphold me in the coming time. But I also turn for practical help so that I can learn to become still both in body ad mind. The way in which I sit or breathe are simple but fundamentally important aspects of how I pray and I am grateful that more and more we are being told about the importance of the posture of the body in prayer.
It might be a good thing to open your eyes and see.
The above material was taken from A Seven Day Journey with Thomas Merton, Esther de Waal," pg.14.
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