Journeying with God, through many traditions.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

From New Seeds of Contemplation


Praying Monk

Chuck Marshall


"A tree gives glory to God by being a tree. For in being what God means it to be it is obeying Him….
The more a tree is like itself, the more it is like Him….
This particular tree will give glory to God by spreading out its roots in the earth and raising its branches into the air and the light in a way that no other tree before or after it ever did or will do….
The special clumsy beauty of this particular colt on this April day in this field under these clouds is a holiness consecrated to God by His own creative wisdom and it declares the glory of God.
The pale flowers of the dogwood outside this window are saints. The little yellow flowers that nobody notices on the edge of that road are saints looking up into the face of God.
This leaf has it own texture and its own pattern of veins and its own holy shape, and the bass and trout hiding in the deep pools of the river are canonised by their beauty and their strength.
The lakes hidden among the hills are saints, and the sea too is a saint who praises God without interruption in her majestic dance.
The great, gashed, half-naked mountain is another of God's saints. There is no other like him. He is alone in his own character; nothing else in the world ever did or ever will imitate God in quite the same way. That is his sanctity….
For me to be a saint means to be myself. Therefore the problem of sanctity and salvation is in fact the problem of finding out who I am and of discovering my true self.
Trees and animals have no problem. God makes them what they are without consulting them, and they are perfectly satisfied.
With us it is different. God leaves us free to be whatever we like. We can be ourselves or not, as we please. We are at liberty to be real, or to be unreal. We may be true or false, the choice is ours. We may wear now one mask and now another, and never, if we so desire, appear with our own true face. But we cannot make these choices with impunity. Causes have effects, and if we lie to ourselves and to others, then we cannot expect to find truth and reality whenever we happen to want them. If we have chosen the way of falsity we must not be surprised that truth eludes us when we finally come to need it!
Our vocation is not simply to be, but to work together with God in the creation of our own life, our own identity, our own destiny….
The seeds that are planted in my liberty at every moment, by God's will, are the seeds of my own identity, my own reality, my own happiness, my own sanctity….
Every one of us is shadowed by an illusory person: a false self.
This is the person that I want myself to be but who cannot exist, because God does not know anything about him. And to be unknown to God is altogether too much privacy.
My false and private self is the one who wants to exist outside the reach of God's will and God's love - outside of reality and outside of life. And such a self cannot help but be an illusion.
We are not very good at recognising illusions, least of all the ones we cherish about ourselves - the ones we are born with and which feed the roots of sin. For most of the people in the world, there is no greater subjective reality than this false self of theirs, which cannot exist. A life devoted to the cult of this shadow is what is called a life of sin.
All sin starts from the assumption that my false self, the self that exists only in my own egocentric desires, is the fundamental reality of life to which everything else in the universe is ordered. Thus I use up my life in the desire for pleasures and the thirst for experiences, for power, honour, knowledge and love, to clothe this false self and construct its nothingness into something objectively real. And I wind experiences around myself and cover myself with pleasures and glory like bandages in order to make myself perceptible to myself and to the world, as if I were an invisible body that could only become visible when something visible covered its surface…"

Thomas Merton

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