Merton on being yourself

A tree gives glory to God by being a tree. For in being what God means it to be it is obeying God. It ‘consents’ so to speak, to God’s creative love. It is expressing an idea which is in God and which is not distinct from the essence of God, and therefore a tree imitates God by being a tree.

The more a tree is like itself, the more it is like Him. If it tried to be like something else which was never intended to be, it would be less like God and therefore it would give Him less glory.

No two created beings are exactly alike. And their individuality is no imperfection. On the contrary, the perfection of each created thing is not merely in its conformity to an abstract type but in its own individual identity with itself. 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.

Do you imagine that the individual created things in the world are imperfect attempts at reproducing an ideal type which the Creator never quite succeeded in actualizing on earth? If that is so they do not give Him glory but proclaim that He is not a perfect Creator.

Therefore each particular being, in its individuality, its concrete nature and entity, with all its own characteristics and its private qualities and its own inviolable identity, gives glory to God by being precisely what God wants it to be here and now, in the circumstances ordained for it by God’s Love and God’s infinite Art.

– Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation, 1961

Loving Forgiveness of Jesus

We have much to be judged on when Jesus comes, slums and battlefields and insane asylums, but these are the symptoms of our illness, and the result of our failures in love. In the evening of life we shall be judged on love, and not one of us is going to come off very well, and were it not for my absolute faith in the loving forgiveness of my Lord I could not call on him to come.

– Madeleine L’Engle

Love Unreservedly

St. John of the Cross said

“Only the free can love, and only the completely free can love unreservedly.”

Both the shortness and depth of this statement harken to a kind of life different from that which I am used to expecting. Who are the people in my life who are completely free, who love unreservedly?

The Strong Need The Weak

Although it’s true that the weak need the strong, the strong need the weak every bit as much. How the strong respond to the weak is their only hope of becoming human.

– Peter Fitch

Patience in Community

Patience, like forgiveness, is at the heart of community life–patience with ourselves, with the laws of our own growth and with others.

– Jean Vanier