In the Night Office—St. Ambrose: all must rise from the dead. Resurrection is our lot. Life is our destiny whether we want it or not. T Merton
It has been a long time since I have had a moment to write. Lent is come and gone. President Trump has been in office for 100 days and the world still turns. At least as I journal. We are moving into mid-Easter which means Ascension and Pentecost are at the door.
As I write I find myself in the dark night of my vocation as a monk. It had to come sooner or latter. No, I have not lost faith, nor ceased praying daily the Monastic Office, nor have I refused the comforts of the Sacraments. But, I am at a turning point. The point where I must embrace and take on the fullness of my life as a monk or lay it aside. In 9 months time I will leave the life I have known for over 25 years now, the life of a parish priest. I believe that I have served that vocation well. I make a good “country parson” or in spanish “cura del pueblo”. But the call to go deeper beyond parish community and life continues to call, though it feels so solitary and alone. At least right now since my communities are both dispersed and distanced (my Monastery in Bavaria and the NBC of which I belong as a professed member). In a months time I will again be at the Sacred Well in Bavaria. Sitting in front of a country pond, watching the cows graze, hearing the church bells, swating flies and mosquitos, and drinking Bavarian Beer. Not to mention sitting in the Abbey church in real time, celebrating the Monastic Office That I enjoy listening to and singing along the entire year through, but as a Real not a Virtual participant.
These are the sounds, the smells and the sight of the Monastery that carry me throughout the year as I continue this journey towards Divine discovery.
There are seasons in our lives when the journey is dry, empty, slow, and deliberate. Many times it is because we are “between” movements. These are most challenging times. They feel like the empty tomb. No life. Cold. Silent. Isolated. It is at these times that we are most in need of a daily routine and ritual to get us through it all. Familiar practices and places that refresh us. It is when we need to surround ourselves with more natural beauty. Reconnect with old friends. Walk, Run, Move our limbs from side to side. Practice yoga or swimming or biking. And just sit and be alone with our many many thoughts and musings that at times feel overwhelming. Yes. It feels like death, but Ambrose reminds us -All must Rise-
We wish at times that all our deep questions were resolved and answered. But that is when we demand to place Ourselves at the center of the Universe. But if we can but get a glimpse of Eternity, we will know that we are being gently carried along by the stream and river of All Life. We and so many others along with us. We must allow the stream to carry us over rocks and stubbles. We must accept the “pace” at which the river flows at this place in the trajectory. We are being lead along the path which eventually leads to that great Ocean.
Merton writes about God’s providence. “Today I read the wonderful sermon on the Divine Truth in which Eckhart says that as a person is about to be struck by a thunderbolt turns toward it, and as all the leaves of a tree about to be struck turn toward it, so one in whom the Divine Birth is to take place turns, without realizing, completely toward it.” TM
I turn towards Mexico. I have been turning for 7 years now, the day I left home. But the storm draws closer, I can hear the thunderbolts at a distance. There is excitement, there is fear, there is attraction. I know that today I am walking in the path of “Divine Birth”. A birth that will take place some 9 months from today. A new beginning. A new vocation. A new phase. A new season.
Thank God for Easter and for fifty days of it. We need every one of those fifty days to be reconvinced that we are being made new, over and over again.
Thomas Merton put it bluntly in his journals. When we are in these times of transition or change we can only “follow the WAY of emptiness and nothingness,”.
They seem like emptiness and nothingness to us. But for the Divine Source of all Truth, they are the seeds of hope, waiting fallow in the ground, awaiting Resurrection.
“God whose Providence never fails to accomplish its ends.” This is the great truth. Christ has indeed conquered, and the world does indeed belong to Him alone.”