Whereas to be ‘in’ it is to seek truth in my own life and action, moving where movement is possible and keeping still when movement is unnecessary, realizing that things will continue to define themselves and that the judgments and mercies of God will clarify themselves and will be more clear to me if I am silent and attentive, obedient to his will, rather than constantly formulating statements in this age which is smothered in language, in meaningless and inconclusive debate in which, in the last analysis, nobody listens to anything except what agrees with his own prejudices. Thomas Merton Journals, March 6, 1966. Volume VI, 366.
Thomas Merton wrote these words from the Abbey of Gethsemani in 1966. How much has really changed? We still live in a culture ‘smothered with language’. The debate he wrote of is still raging, only the participants are even more entrenched now that technology allows them to hide in the virtual bunkers of social media. The answers to the stalemate in our wars of attrition lie in Merton’s writing as well. Being silent, attentive to God’s will, trusting in the reality that life continues to unfold in the best ways of all of us when we realize that we are at our best when in communion with God and community with others. those are the qualities of the mindset that will make our lives better and more connected. This mindset is based on the humility to confess that I am not God, that I am second, and being what Mike Breen calls ‘poised’ for action – attentive, relaxed and focused – is the way we can all learn to breathe again.
So for today, breathe deeply and listen carefully. Anticipating the action of Holy Love, let us give up our agendas and ask to be surprised by joy.