25 November 2015

A Contemplative Moment: Renunciation


". . .neither the way to contemplation nor contemplation itself should be thought of as either dramatic or strange. In fact, if we enter the contemplative life with our minds too full of the language and poetry of a St John of the Cross we are apt to get side-tracked by our own imagination and wander for the rest of our days in an austere and misguided dream. If instead of translating the language of St John of the Cross into practice we become attached to its figures for the poetic pleasure our own minds absorb from them, we shall be no further advanced than we were before. 

It is easy to stand St John of the Cross on his own head by becoming attached to his doctrine of detachment. . . . In practice the way to contemplation is an obscurity that is so obscure it is no longer even dramatic. There is nothing left in it that can be grasped and cherished as heroic or even unusual. And so, for a contemplative, there is supreme value in the ordinary routine of work and poverty and hardship and monotony that characterize the lives of all poor and uninteresting and forgotten people in the world.

Father (Louis) Thomas Merton, OCSO, Seeds of Contemplation