Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Living In The Place of What I Am Meant To Be

Window, in Ann Arbor
One of the things I'm doing during this Christmas season is re-reading Thomas Merton's New Seeds of Contemplation. This book is still on my list of top ten books I've ever read. 

God, through Merton, takes me deep. In the God-encounter that happens in the contemplative experience I am far away from the underwhelming superficiality of social media and taken into the deep waters of the heart (Prov. 20:5). 

Merton writes:

"Contemplation is more than a consideration of abstract truths about God, more even than affective meditation on the things we believe. It is awakening, enlightenment and the amazing intuitive grasp by which love gains certitude of God’s creative and dynamic intervention in our daily life. Hence contemplation does not simply “find” a clear idea of God and confine Him within the limits of that idea, and hold Him there as a prisoner to Whom it can always return. On the contrary, contemplation is carried away by Him into His own realm, His own mystery and His own freedom. It is a pure and a virginal knowledge, poor in concepts, poorer still in reasoning, but able, by its very poverty and purity, to follow the Word “wherever He may go.” (Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation, p. 5)

This is classic "dark night of the soul," "cloud of unknowing," "interior castle" language. It's also biblical experiential agape-love language. This is the arena of no-hype brute familiarity where the true God encounters, encompasses, and embraces the true self. This is The Place of What I Am Meant To Be. 

In the doxaic-kabod* brilliant weightiness of God's presence Facebook-isms are stripped away, and I simply am. Call this Am-book. I am known by God, and simultaneously loved by him. This is the abiding "in Christ" reality. This is the into-me-see quality of intimacy. Yes, it remains like seeing through a glass, darkly. But in the agape-love description given in 1 Corinthians 13 there is encounter and experience with God, albeit dimly. This is because love always brings the lover and beloved closer.

Merton says this "God with me" knowledge is not the unreachable Cartesian distance between subject and object. He writes: "For the contemplative there is no cogito ("I think) and no ergo ("therefore") but only SUM, I am. This is what I truly need; viz., "Emmanuel," God with me

In God's presence I simply come. I simply am. Deep down we all want to be known and loved for who we really are. Who we really are, who we are meant to be, is only found in Him. 

Doxa and kabod are the Greek and Hebrew words for "glory."