Dear Friends,

 We invite you to sojourn with us in contemplation this Advent Season.

 Tomorrow is the anniversary of the death of Thomas Merton. Today's Meditation gives us a flavor of Merton's contemplation.

We invite you to join us as we commit ourselves to working tirelessly to end systemic and structural racism in our society, in the church, in healthcare, in the workplace--wherever it shows up so that everyone may come to have more abundant life. May this meditation nourish our contemplative-active hearts and sustain all of us in action.

In the spirit of our philosophy of co-creating community and our awareness that the Spirit speaks through each of us, we invite you to share your meditations with us as well. We truly believe that it is God's economy of abundance: when we share our blessings, our thoughts, our feelings, we are all made richer.

We hope and pray that you find peace, healing, hope and the infusion of joy in your life!

With our love and care,

Ron and Jean

MEDITATION 851: Thomas Merton reflects

December 10: Thomas Merton, Cistercian monk, writer, and peace activist, died on this day in 1968. Here was a monk who never waited for permission to discover the good in all of life. He kept the rules of the world that served to deepen and discipline his soul but he also opened himself beyond them. He went to the East to talk to Buddhist monks whose contemplative tradition was far older than his own and gave us all, as a result, a look down another path to Truth. While we wait for Christmas perhaps we, too, should look for Jesus someplace new this year.

—from A Monastery Almanac, by Joan Chittister

From Matthew Fox: Merton & Eckhart on Nothingness & Solitude

Merton expounds on the experience of nothingness:

But to each of us there is a point of nowhereness in the middle of movement, a point of nothingness in the midst of being: the incomparable point, not to be discovered by insight. If you seek it you do not find it. If you stop seeking, it is there. But you must not turn to it.

“Dance of Soul.” Photo by Ahmad Odeh on Unsplash

Once you come aware of yourself as seeker, you are lost. But if you are content to be lost you will be found without knowing it, precisely because you are lost, for you are, at last, nowhere.

In his poem “The Fall,” Merton puts it this way:

To enter there is to become unnameable….

Whoever is nowhere is nobody, and therefore cannot

Exist except as unborn:

No disguise will avail him anything

Such a one is neither lost nor found.*

Both Merton and Eckhart are keen on the subject of solitude. Eckhart says:

We must learn an inner solitude, wherever or with whomsoever we may be. One must learn to penetrate things and find God there.

Thomas Merton’s hermitage, Gethsemani Abbey. Photo by Jim Forest on Flickr.

In other words, solitude is wherever Divinity is and Divinity is everywhere and wherever we find ourselves. But it is learning to let go and let be, to taste nothingness, that allows us to experience the Divine in all circumstances. Yet this takes practice and knowing ourselves and plenty of patience as well.

Merton writes in his Asian Journal about a brief retreat he undertook while there.

This is a good retreat and I appreciate the quiet more than I can say. This quiet, with time to read, study, meditate, and not talk to anyone, is something essential in my life.

In his journal written on his sojourn in May, 1968 to northern California, he puts it this way:

I am the utter poverty of God. I am His emptiness, littleness, nothingness, lostness. When this is understood, my life in His freedom the self-emptying of God in me is the fullness of grace. A love for God that knows no reason because He is the fullness of grace. A love for God that knows no reason because He is God; a love without measure, a love for God as personal. The Ishvara appears as personal in order to inspire this love. Love for all, hatred of none, is the fruit and manifestation of love for God—peace and satisfaction.