Friday, October 02, 2009

The Condition

"But there is only one condition. If you desire intimate union with God you must be willing to pay the price for it. The price is small enough. In fact, it is not even a price at all: it only seems to be so with us. We find it difficult to give up our desire for things that can never satisfy us in order to purchase the One Good in Whom is all our joy—and in Whom, moreover we get back everything else that we have renounced besides!

The fact remains that contemplation will not be given to those who wilfully remain at a distance from God, who confine their interior life to a few routine exercises of piety and a few external acts of worship and service performed as a matter of duty. Such people are careful to avoid sin. They respect God as a Master. But their heart does not belong to Him. They are not really interested in Him, except in order to insure themselves against losing heaven and going to hell. In actual practice, their minds and hearts are taken up with their own ambitions and troubles and comforts and pleasures and all their worldly interests and anxieties and fears. God is only invited to enter this charmed circle to smooth out difficulties and dispense rewards."

~Thomas Merton

This passage shakes me out of my complacent spiritual life. Am I willing to pay the price for intimacy with God? I utter a few perfunctuary prayers and quickly read a Bible passage before sleep. I grumble about having to go out of my way to help someone. I follow my list of rules, but don't seek a living relationship. I am wrapped up in myself: my problems, my needs, my goals, my desires. I live with worry and doubt and I am afraid of many things. I will only grow and thrive if I let go of things that can't satisfy and reach out for the wellspring of all joy, if I start to live in close communion with God and to live in true community with others who are my brothers and sisters.