Friday, May 5, 2006
American Monasticism: conclusion
“My whole life becomes a prayer” said Thomas Merton, “my whole silence is full of prayer [and] the world of silence in which I am immersed contributes to that prayer.”
This “whole life” approach advocated by Merton, Lawrence, Peterson, etc… is an approach that has opened up the mystery of an approachable God for me. It is an approach that redeemed me from my own failed attempts at “doing” the right things in an effort to gain God’s favor, and instead allowed me to accept His love without question, and without striving.
It is the devotional quality of this experience that has roused me to try and articulate these thoughts in this way. It is my desire to help others encounter God more deeply, more fully, than perhaps a more routine approach would permit. I have not done this lightly, however, for I am aware that there always exists the dark danger that we might dilute the devotion and love our God deserves in an attempt to “succeed” more quickly at being spiritual. But I am of the conviction that God is always pleased when we endeavor to please Him, and that all of our attempts at getting this right appear to our Father’s eyes as the playful songs and imagination of children in the spring, playing with their Dad.
Spirituality has become more about embracing this world rather than escaping it, more about loving all of the created order than waiting around for its doom and hoping I don’t have to watch; so, with this in mind, allow me to say that it is my dear hope to have contributed in some way to the greater conversation about how we might use every available avenue to connect more personally with Him.
I leave you with thoughts from Brother Lawrence, who articulates my own thoughts far better than I ever could:
What I wanted was simply to belong totally to God, so I decided to give everything I could give in order to attain the greatest blessing in return – knowing Him. I gave myself completely to God, accepting His forgiveness of my sins, after which I renounced everything that might offend Him. I began to live as if there were no one but God and myself in the world.
 Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude (New York, Farrar Straus Giroux, 1999), 91.
 Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God (New Kensington, Whitaker House, 1982), 52.