Thursday, February 21, 2013

Giving Thanks for Thomas Merton

I am a huge Thomas Merton fan. I forget the process of how I became aware of him and his work but I remember the result: I devoured everything I could find that he wrote -- checking out book after book from the Ventura Public Library and reading them from the bleachers at the City College pool one summer while my boys had their swimming lessons. (This would put the time frame circa late 1980s/early 1990s)

Like Joan Chittsiter (for whose quote this blog is named) and Verna Dozier, his was one of the voices that gave meaning to words I'd heard my whole life, gave context to the call to live out Micah 6:8 and gave challenge to everything I thought I knew about what the church was intended to be and what I my life was supposed to be about.

OK ... enough about me. Here's the quote I found on Facebook this morning that dragged me back down Merton Memory Lane -- one which I wish I'd had when I preached my "both/and" sermon ("Fully Alive") a couple of weeks ago, but which will most certainly be working its way into one of the meditations I've got on my "to do" list for what's left of Lent:
There is a pervasive form of contemporary violence to which the idealist fighting for peace by nonviolent methods most easily succumbs: activism and overwork. The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence.

To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence. More than that, it is cooperation in violence.

The frenzy of the activist neutralizes his work for peace. It destroys his own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of his own work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.

-- Thomas Merton, "Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander"

1 comment:

whiteycat said...

WOW! Susan, thanks for posting this. That is one awesome quote!