avoiding the artificial

A saint is capable of loving created things and enjoying the use of them and dealing with them in a perfectly simple, natural manner, making no formal references to God, drawing no attention to his own piety, and acting without any artificial rigidity at all. His gentleness and his sweetness are not pressed through his pores by the crushing restraint of a spiritual strait-jacket. They come from his direct docility to the light of truth and to the will of God. Hence a saint is capable of talking about the world without any explicit reference to God, in such a way that his statement gives greater glory to God than the observations of someone less holy, who has to strain himself to make an arbitrary connection between creatures and God through the medium of hackneyed analogies and metaphors that are so feeble that they make you think there is something the matter with religion.     – Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation

openness as stillness, silence and simplicity

[more from John Main:]

….[F]aith is not a matter of exertion but of openness.

We need to see faith in this way as openness, and to see it as a positive, creative, sensitive way of being – miles apart from mere passivity or quietism. The effectiveness of all doing depends on the quality of being we enjoy. And to be open implies certain other qualities: such as being still, because we cannot be open to what is here if we are always running after what we think is there; such as being silent, because we cannot listen or receive unless we give our whole attention; such as being simple, because  what we are being open to is the wholeness, the integrity of God. This condition of openness as the blend of stillness, silence, and simplicity is the condition of prayer, our nature and our being in wholesome harmony with the being and nature of God in Jesus.

  • John Main, Selected Writings

more with less

The ancient Celts said, “The one to whom little is not enough will not benefit from more.”  They understood something about simplicity.  Subtraction is about laying ourselves bare before the Lord.  In fact, Jesus said that we must give up all our possessions to follow him (Luke 18) – that’s very bare, but when we do it, we experience more.

Living more with less is also demonstrated in the mustard seed (Mt 13).  Most people look at a mustard seed and don’t see much.  But when we’re living in a more with less perspective, we can look beyond what is immediately apparent to see the fruitful plant it may one day become.  This posture leads us to celebrate what is present instead of grasping for what we lack.  It sees us letting go with one hand while receiving with the other.  It is a mindset that allows us to revel in God’s presence wherever we see him and leaves us living with a festive sense of enough in the Kingdom of endless possibilities.

– SSU alumnus, Andy Wood, in a post from the Vineyard Justice Network