Monday, February 14, 2011

Self-Love as Boredom

Here's a Thomas Merton quote that I read many years ago and just now re-read. Merton's deep insights continue to nourish my spirit. They come out of Merton's quiet, abiding heart. Out of a "still" place, a place in one's soul that is not striving. Remember that Ps. 46:10 says, literally: "Cease striving, and know that I am God."

Merton, in The Waters of Siloe, writes:

"If you discover any kind of love that satiates you, it is not the end for which you were created. Any act that can cease to be a joy is not the end [purpose; telos] of your existence. If you grow tired of a love that you thought was the love of God, be persuaded that what you are tired of was never pure love, but either the same act ordered to that love or something else without the order altogether.

The one love that always grows weary of its object and is never satiated with anything and is always looking for something different and new is the love of ourselves. It is the source of all boredom and all restlessness and all unquiet and all misery and all unhappiness - ultimately, it is hell."

  • The love we were made for and are all looking for is to be found in God. Such love will never cease to be a source of joy and wonder.
  • All other loves that lose their joy and wonder (that one tires of) are, ipso facto, not loves we were made for.
  • The ultimate tiring, unsatisfactory, boring love is love of one's self.
  • Merton here reminds me of C.S. Lewis's idea of heaven as being a place of infinite exploration, wonder, and joy, so that in life after life after death (N.T. Wright) we are always moving "further up, further in."