I have heard from many along the way about an appreciation for the writings and thought of Thomas Merton. However, up to this point, I have not had the experience of reading his writings for myself. I am now a fan of the man and his way. I am learning to appreciate his style of writing, for he doesn’t write like anyone I have ever read before, but there is something deep and connective in his writing.
Quoted from Book of Hours, page 184-185.
“Contemplation is not trance or ecstasy
not emotional fire and sweetness that come with religious exaltation
not enthusiasm, not the sense of being ‘seized’ by an elemental force
and swept into liberation by mystical frenzy.
Contemplation is no pain killer.
In the end the contemplative suffers the anguish of realizing that he no longer knows what God is;
this is great gain,
because “God is not a what,”
Not a “thing.”
There is “no such thing” as God
because God is neither a “what” or a “thing”
but a pure “who,”
the “thou” before whom our inmost “I” springs into awareness.”
As a person who has spent their life studying to know God by means of knowing revelation, and theology, while walking in devotion as a disciple. However the reality is, as I have discovered, that we tend to focus on encounter when that is our goal and we tend to focus on knowledge when that is our goal and has been our educational discipline. At this point, Merton’s words are a huge challenge and one that needs to be taken up. I want to move in the way of the mystical approach to God, to encounter, to surrender even that which is precious, even our knowledge that we might enter in to relationship with God as a true discoverer, a true learner.