Tag Archives: Thomas Merton

theology of the pines

Thomas Merton, one of my favorite theologians and writers, was a contemplative after my own heart.

Almost 40 years ago, while on an Holy Week retreat at the Holy Cross Abby near Berryville, Virginia, I wrote

DANCE OF THE CEDARS

Outside my guesthouse window
the four small cedars
stand in a row,
guarding the wall
that guards the propane tank.

This morning, just for me,
they shared their freedom
and their joy
as I watched them dance
to the song in the wind.

In that dance
was a celebration of life
just as it was promised,
full and free and without a care,
just the way it was meant to be.

a battle of wits with the Creator

God is more glorified by a man who uses the good things of this life in simplicity and gratitude than by the nervous asceticism of someone who is agitated by every detail of his self-denial….His [the latter’s] struggle for perfection becomes a kind of battle of wits with the Creator who made all things good. – Thomas Merton

Nothing turns me off more than frowning saints. And the problem is that there’s far to many of them in most of the churches I visit.

Many Christians live, and want others to live, as if faithfulness to a loving Creator is best manifested by a public denial of anything that might be good or enjoyable. These fine folks look like they lost their ticket to the big game and can’t find anyone to blame.

These are the folks in every church who look as if they just returned from a trip and they didn’t enjoy the ride. The glass is not only half empty, it’s also chipped, as well.  If it’s good it’s suspect.

Thomas Merton was a Trappist monk. He lived a life of simplicity as his faith response to God’s love, but he understood that God isn’t glorified by a constant struggle against enjoyment of his perfect creation.

Thoroughly enjoying all the good gifts of God glorifies him far more than continually fighting against the contentment that follows a good meal or a walk through a spring meadow. We don’t have to be afraid to enjoy the good things of God.

God created the world and saw that it was good. Not only can we enjoy it, we can actually smile as we thank God for all the blessings we have been given.

It’s simply impossible

 

Life is this simple: we are living in a world that is absolutely transparent and God is shining through it all the time. This is not just a fable or a nice story. It is true. If we abandon ourselves to God and forget ourselves, we see it sometimes, and we see it maybe frequently. God is manifest everywhere, in everything – in people and in things and in nature and in events. It becomes obvious that God is everywhere and in everything and we cannot be without God. It’s impossible. It’s simply impossible. – Thomas Merton