ERRONEOUS SHROUDS DISAPPEAR
CLARITY SIMPLY IS
AS UNVEILD SOUL OCCURS
A TRANSPARENT CONDUIT THAT ONLY LISTENS
AT ONE WITH THE REALMS
BEYOND WORDS & THOUGHTS
ALL JUST IS
*See Taylor Caldwell's
The past year has been for me and for many others,
an opportunity to cling to God
in the face of hardship and pain.
In our acceptance and surrender
we grow closer to God.
To recognize your powerlessness in the face of suffering can be the door to a small circle of peace within,
It used to seem to me that
Catholic saints were obsessed with suffering,
gladly accepting and even welcoming it.
This is because pain brought them
to the deep truth of God’s nearness.
"Those in the unitive state
now have a balanced psyche
and no extremes are possible.
Once their feelings reach a certain threshold,
that is it,
they come to an end.
They are either stopped and go no further
or they, as it were, bump into God.
So these feelings act kind of as a reminder of God’s presence.
they actually went out and sought suffering,
looked for problems because they realized this situation.
the greater the awareness of God.
The more they had to put up with,
the more they had to contact this center,
and the more that center was revealed."
a prosperous and peace-filled New Year,
let me wish you instead everything you need
to draw closer to God.
May the fire of your longing light every day.
See this link for more re: Bernadette Roberts
one thing is certain: he was a monk who loved trees.
One might say I had decided to marry the silence of the forest,
"The sweet dark warmth of the whole world will have to be my wife.
Out of the heart of that dark warmth
comes the secret that is heard only in silence …
Perhaps I have an obligation to preserve the stillness,
the silence, the poverty,
the virginal point of pure nothingness
which is at the center of all other loves."
He had been searching for that center his whole life.
Le point vierge, he called it.
was also a gregarious lover of people,
which is exactly why he needed to flee their presence.
He yearned for the kind of deep solitude
where he could shed his public persona
and live for God alone.
Perhaps he would find it among the California redwoods,
along the Lost Coast,
or in New Mexico’s Chama River Canyon.
I first discovered the phrase in Merton’s book Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, where he wrote:
At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God, which is never at our disposal, from which God disposes of our lives, which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our own mind or the brutalities of our own will.
This little point of nothingness and of absolute poverty
is the pure glory of God in us.
Merton helped me articulate a belief
I’d long suspected, that the core of our being is not rotten,
as my Protestant upbringing had insisted,
but is a place of untouched beauty and wholeness
reserved for God alone,
a place beyond ego that no evil can touch.
from Sufi scholar Louis Massignon,
who borrowed the idea
from the ninth-century Sufi Mansur al-Hallaj.
As al-Hallaj wrote,
“Our hearts, in their secrecy,
are a virgin alone,
where no dreamer’s dream penetrates--
the heart where the presence of the Lord penetrates,
there to be conceived.”
casting their shadows on the bare hillside.
He read the Astavakra Gita on reincarnation,
looked out over the Pacific, and wrote:
Reincarnation or not,
I am as tired of talking and writing
as if I had done it for centuries.
Now it is the time to listen at length to this Asian ocean.
In the fall he would cross this Asian ocean on a different pilgrimage, one that would be his last.
Before he left, he photographed Needle Rock.
The great Yang-Yin of sea rock mist,
diffused light and half hidden mountain …
an interior landscape, yet there.
In other words,
what is written within me is there.
“Thou art that.”
but to seek solitude and exile.
If the peregrinus had a goal, it was to find his
“place of resurrection”--
a specific place where he might live out his remaining days
in prayer and solitude.
This was not simply wandering for its own sake, Merton wrote:
“It was a journey to a mysterious, unknown,
but divinely appointed place,
which was to be the place of the monk’s
ultimate meeting with God.”
or along the desolate Mendocino coast
or in the deep hush of the redwoods,
he began to suspect that his search for the perfect hermitage
was a chimera.
The country which is nowhere is the real home.
His real home was le point vierge,
the place in himself reserved only for God.
Perhaps I have an obligation to preserve the stillness,
the silence, the poverty, the virginal point of pure nothingness
which is at the center of all other loves.
will either be a mystic or cease to exist.
Brother Leander looks hard at me with his good eye.
“And what is mysticism?
The experience of God in the interior of one’s being.
I always liked Hermann Hesse’s definition of a mystic:
a poet without verses,
a painter without a brush,
a musician without notes.”
I tell Brother Leander that I pray the Jesus Prayer,
a kind of mantra used by the early desert monks.
“Yes, laddie, and you must pray the prayer
not only with your lips or your mind
but with your heart.”
IT WAS A COLLECTIVE madness that befell European Christianity
in the medieval years when Christians gave up wandering
in search of God and turned their search
toward wealth and power.
By the twelfth century,
the peaceful and defenseless peregrinatio of the Irish monks
had been replaced by the violence of the Crusades.
When knights, kings, and priests attempted to liberate
the land of Abraham through force, Merton wrote,
they implanted within the European psyche
an insidious pattern of conquest
that would repeat itself many times
over the coming centuries.
the pilgrim mentality and crusader mentality had finally fused,
creating a singular and disastrous form of alienation
that resulted in the conquest of indigenous peoples.
As Merton wrote:
“Centuries of ardent, unconscious desire for the Lost Island
had established a kind of right to paradise once it was found.
It never occurred to the sixteenth-century Spaniard or Englishman to doubt for a moment that the new world was entirely and rightly his.
It had been promised and given to him by God.
It was the end of centuries of pilgrimage.”
Merton concluded in his essay on pilgrimage.
“We are all pieces of the paradise isle.”
In no time is that more true than now,
in this age when our paradise isle
is threatened at every turn.
Perhaps the meaning of pilgrimage now
in this age of climate change and species loss
is that the fruits of our inner life in God
cannot remain ours alone;
they must be shared for the sake of all life.
The portal to the invisible must be visible.
“What can we gain by sailing to the moon
if we are not able to cross the abyss
that separates us from ourselves?”
“This is the most important of all voyages of discovery,
and without it all the rest are not only useless but disastrous.”
What can we gain by fixing climate change
or ending poverty
or terraforming Mars
if we remain alienated from ourselves?
How to cross that abyss?
You must let the prayer descend to your heart, laddie!
Let us be silent before God who made us.
You learn to talk to silence,
and silence answers in silence.
to take these feelings of loneliness and exile
and bring them into the furnace of the heart,
where emotional abandonment becomes mystical abandonment.
Sitting in this tiny patch of shade,
surrounded by white sage and ocotillo,
I bring these thoughts into prayer.
the hypes and gripes of a lukewarm spiritual life,
but here on the edge of this vast mesa,
I feel those petitions giving way to something more compelling,
an opening into a more spacious country.
An uncomplicated resting in God,
who seems to have no other agenda
than to welcome me into this place of
silence and mercy and at-oneness.
A feeling of Presence
that is so much more than the breeze on my face
or the sweat evaporating on my skin.