|Storm clouds over our house
Thomas Merton wrote: "The measure of our being is not to be sought in the violence of our experiences. Turbulence of spirit is a sign of spiritual weakness. When delights spring out of our depths like leopards, we have nothing to be proud of: our soul's life is in danger." (No Man Is an Island, 125)
Here we have an equanimity of spirit that does not go up and down with the circumstances of life; an enduring spiritual center that functions as a thermostat, not a thermometer that rises and falls with one's moods and feelings.
This is the Pauline idea of learning the secret of contentment, whether one rises or falls. "I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need." (Phil. 4:12, NASB)
There is an oak-like steadiness that comes with spiritual maturity. Merton writes: "For when we are strong we are always much greater than the things that happen to us, and the soul of a man who has found himself is like a deep sea in which there may be many fish; but they never come up out of the sea, and no one of them is big enough to trouble its placid surface." (Ib.)
The Christ-grounded soul is not disrupted when outwardly things have erupted, whether for the good or for the bad. "This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil..." (Hebrews 6:19)
Merton writes: "A man's "being" is far greater than anything he feels or does." (Ib.)
The ontology of the spiritual life is: