Saturday, November 14, 2015


At this time of year, the Church turns her thoughts and ours towards the “last things:” our own
mortality, say, and the final coming of Christ at the end of time. Over the decades, one of my favorite images for this time of year has been one that I read in the final chapter of Merton’s “New Seeds of Contemplation” dozens of years ago. I’ve since used it in two of my own books (and maybe a third one that seems to be writing itself in my head at the moment). So, I would like to share it with you here. In the original it is just two long paragraphs, but for ease of reading as a blog post I’ve divided it into two or three more. I hope you enjoy it.

"What is serious to man is often very trivial in the sight of God. What in God might appear to us as 'play' is perhaps what He Himself takes most seriously. At any rate the Lord plays and diverts Himself in the garden of His creation, and if we could let go of our own obsession with what we think is the meaning of it all, we might be able to hear His call and follow Him in the mysterious cosmic dance.

"We do not have to go very far."
“We do not have to go very far to catch the echoes of that game, and of that dancing. When we are alone on a starlit night, when by chance we see the migrating birds in autumn descending on a grove of junipers to rest and eat, when we see children in a moment when they are really children, when we know love in our own hearts, or when, like the Japanese poet Basho we hear an old frog land in a quiet pond with a solitary splash - at such times the awakening, the turning inside out of all values, the 'newness,' the emptiness and the purity of the vision that make themselves evident, provide a glimpse of the cosmic dance.

"For the world and time are the dance of the Lord in emptiness.

“The more we persist in misunderstanding the phenomena of life, the more we analyze them out into strange finalities and complex purposes of our own, the more we involve ourselves in sadness, absurdity, and despair. But it does not matter much, because no despair of ours can alter the reality of things, or stain the joy of the cosmic dance which is always there. Indeed, we are in the midst of it, and it is in the midst of us, for it beats in our very blood, whether we want it to or not.

"Yet the fact remains that we are invited to forget ourselves on purpose, cast our awful solemnity to the winds and join the general dance." T. Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation

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