I'm slow-reading Thomas Merton's A Book of Hours during my alone, devotional times with God. It's going to take me a long time to read this short book. This is because nearly every sentence in Merton opens a new universe of meaning and application.
So, I just read this:
"Merton taught that the contemplative journey toward the indwelling and all encompassing God is made on the existential pathways of one's own self. The search for the One is the discovery of the Other in a transformative encounter with the divine image and presence at the core of our true self." (Op. cit., 24)
I'll expand on this quote.
- "contemplative journey" - seeing God, encountering God, and when the encounter happens it's more of a nondiscursive experience; viz., an experience that cannot be adequately discoursed about.
- "indwelling God" - "Christ in you, the hope of glory." Contrast this with a Barthian-Reformed reluctance to emphasize the inner experience described in the Bible, and keeping God (as the "Wholly Other") at a great distance, whereby praying is mostly if not entirely petitionary.
- "existential pathways of one's own self" - seek God within; "Search me O God, and know my heart." John 14 - God comes to make his home in you.
- "the discovery of the Other in a transformative encounter" - God shows up, in real time and real experience, and changes you in such a way that you realize the agent of transformation is God, working in you.
- "the core of our true self" - who you really are, behind the mask, beneath the pretense, and what you are really intended to be. This is philosophical essentialism; viz., there is a core essence to your being. You are created in the imago dei. Theistic philosopher J. P. Moreland calls this The Recalcitrant Image; viz., the discover of the conscious self which a theistic worldview explains and an atheistic worldview cannot, in principle.